NEWS

Flora for 2004 suffers growing pains

Prospects are grim for the greenery related to the 2004 Olympic Games projects. It is highly unlikely that the 206.6-million-euro planting project will be completed by the time the Games begin, as the Public Works Ministry (YPEHODE) promised some months ago. Only three contracts have been signed so far between contractors and plant nurseries, and as Costas Matsoukas, a member of the Flower Growers Cooperative of Greece, warns, «If we delay a few more months, we won’t be able to grow the plants in time.» And the future of the greenery after 2004 is not much brighter. «It costs three cents to grow a plant, but 30 cents to maintain it,» says Michalis Stoyiannis, president of the Panhellenic Union of Horticultural Contractors, who notes that there may soon not be sufficient water to irrigate the areas to be planted. The Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (IGME) has already drilled the boreholes assigned to it by YPEHODE, and other water sources have been found for further needs. The issue, says Stoyiannis, is whether these bores will continue to yield sufficient water: «How much greenery Athens has and what it is like will become apparent in the spring of 2005.» Philippos Harmanidis, head of IGME’s bore-drilling program, told Kathimerini it had to be done with care and in moderation. «You shouldn’t take the amount of water you need from bores,» he said, «but the amount that they can give you.»