Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias yesterday heralded an ambitious 20-year plan to curb development in the densely populated capital, crack down on illegal construction and extend the existing metro system to an eight-line route covering most of Attica. According to the minister, the plan foresees the coexistence of «sustainable development, protection of natural resources, stable economic growth, an upgrading in competitivenes and the improvement of citizens’ quality of life.» He told a press conference that this grand vision could be achieved by regulating town planning – currently riven by inefficiency and corruption – and by cracking down on illegal construction, which is widespread. A separate agency would be set up to carry out the demolition of illegal buildings, he said. The minister said a draft bill, to be debated until November when it is to be submitted to Parliament, also envisages «sustainable development in keeping with the international role of Athens as a metropolitan area of Europe.» Souflias insisted that this growth would not harm the environment, while contributing considerably to «upgrading the broader urban area.» One of the most ambitious aspects of the plan, however, is the creation of a 220-kilometer metro network comprising eight lines with 200 stations and covering 85 percent of Attica. In addition to the three existing lines, and a fourth U-line connecting northeastern with northwestern Athens, the plan envisages another five routes. These would be Line 5 connecting Vyronas and Pangrati with Patissia and Ano Liosia, Line 6 connecting Halandri to Piraeus via Kallithea, Line 6B connecting Thiseion to Perama and Line 7 linking Haidari to Alimos. Line 8 would be a cyclical line that would run through many of the aforementioned areas. «Of course, all these lines cannot be built in the next 20 years but this constitutes a comprehensive study for the needs of an Attica metro system,» Souflias said.