Where is the plan?

Where is the plan?

Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias struck a somber tone last week when he appeared on our television screens saying that the Fire Service and the police were in possession of camera footage showing an arsonist setting fire to dried brush in eastern Attica. He also claimed that the footage would be made public.

His announcement was welcomed, but there is just one issue. According to the Fire Service spokesman, the fire that caused such damage and chaos in Athens on June 19 started in low-lying brush along the side of the Vari-Koropi road. Given that Kikilias also said, in a post on Twitter, that the law regarding fires has become stricter and that causing a blaze through negligence is now being treated as a felony, we ask ourselves whether criminal prosecution has been launched or at least some kind of fine issued against the Attica Regional Authority for failing to clear the dry brush from its area of jurisdiction, or whether such penalties are reserved for the common folk who neglect to clear their gardens and farms of potentially flammable materials.

The fact is that the arsonist found something to set fire to on public land and this fire then spread. According to many TV commentators, this was partly the result of “irresponsible” residents who haven’t cleared their land, as required by a recent law.

Instead of investing the huge amount of money Greece has received from the EU’s Recovery Fund in starting to make sense of the zoning chaos, it is frittering it away on needless apps

Which also makes us wonder: Did the big boat shop on Varis-Koropiou Avenue adjacent to where the fire started have the fire insurance certificate that the Environment Ministry is demanding all Greek homeowners get? It is also worth noting that the owners of any residential properties neighboring the boat business are required by a joint ministerial decision to pay 500 euros or more to an expert to certify that they do not have firewood or any other such incendiary matter in their yards.

To be fair to the government, there’s not much that can be done about fires when forestland, farms, residences, businesses trading in or carrying hazardous materials, three schools and summer homes are all jumbled together in the same area. Greece’s zoning chaos is an enduring blight, one of the many inherited by the government from a succession of previous administrations and requiring long-term planning to be seriously addressed.

The problem, though, is that the government does not have such a plan. What it does have is attitude, shaking its finger at citizens and making bold statements of the “We are solving a chronic problem” and “We are putting an end to the evil ways of the past” variety.

Instead of investing the huge amount of money Greece has received from the EU’s Recovery Fund to start making sense of the zoning chaos, it is frittering it away on needless apps – and, to add insult to injury, we don’t even know whether these apps will continue to operate once the money from the EU runs out.

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