Messinia: 300 swimming pools but no vegetables

Everyone knows that Greece’s administration is in a state of disarray, but it is rare to find such outrageous hypocrisy, such unequal treatment (of locals and tourists) as occurs in the prefecture of Messinia, in the Peloponnese. Water is a resource that is scarce and the fact that sacrifices have to be made is self-evident. There is understandable panic among Kalamata’s water resources association and the municipal water and sewerage works (DEYA), which are concerned that «the water level in springs is very low and the residents of Kalamata, Messini, Thuria, Arios and Avia will run out of water,» according to a statement by the Kalamata Ecology Movement to the local newspaper Eleftheria. DEYA Messini has asked villagers to use water only for household use from 9 a.m. to noon and from 6 p.m to 9 p.m. and to avoid planting vegetables this year, even on a small scale, because of the water shortage. In the same area, a Natura 2000 region, there are forested mountains, sheltered bays and coasts with serious water problems, such as salinization, because of overdrilling, where the Integrated Tourism Development Region (POTA) Messinia has undertaken to build a colossal hotel complex with two luxury developments, the one with 142 private swimming pools and several public ones and the second with 123 private and again many more public pools. POTA Messinia received 146 million euros in public funds last year to build these swimming pools, among other things, so that privileged tourists can swim right next to those magical beaches. Meanwhile, local residents in villages, who have paid (along with all of us taxpayers) 16 euros each to build a tourism industry that involves high political and economic stakes, where the government provides assistance in overcoming bureaucratic obstacles, can’t even plant a tomato. That is nothing less than a scandal and a disgrace.