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  Nr. 136 - May 2010
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It's All Greek to Me!

by Massaliotis

New hospital to be funded by ESPA

A new hospital planned for Paros and Antiparos will receive funding from the National Strategic Framework (ESPA). The decision was made at a meeting that took place last month between Christina Papanikolaou, the new director of the Second DYPE (unit for the health services of the periphery) and Paros Eparchos Grigoria Protolati. The hospital, the estimated cost of which is 11 million euros, will hold 44 beds and be able to treat 80,000 patients annually, Christos Zotos, a Second Dype official, said at the meeting.
The understaffing and other administrative problems of the Health Centre in Paroikia were also discussed. Papanikolaou accused the previous government of making empty promises and emphasised the need for structural changes in the way medical services are offered.
“The present system needs wholesale changes, but these cannot be carried out overnight,” said Papanikolaou. “The difficult thing is not the infrastructure, but the staffing and management of the personnel. As a first step, the two peripheral medical centres on the island need to be upgraded and staffed by additional personnel during the summer.”
(Koini Gnomi 2865/13-4.)

Lukewarm start for tourist season

Tourism dropped during this year’s Easter celebrations. The number of arrivals on Naxos from 26 March to 2 April decreased by 2,781 people (or 24.5 percent), as compared to the corresponding period last year. Similarly, there were 324 fewer vehicles arriving on Naxos this year compared to last year.
Paros saw a similar downward trend during Easter. The number of visitors this year decreased from 16,448 last year to 13,148 (a 20 percent drop), while the number of vehicles went down from 2,436 to 2,107 (a drop of more than 17 percent). These decreases are attributed to the financial crisis and to the fact that Easter fell earlier this year than last year. Only 20 percent of hotels on Paros opened their doors for Easter holidays — and their occupancy rate did not exceed 30 percent. This summer, the tourism revenue is not expected to exceed that of last year.
“At the moment, there is a five to ten percent drop in pre-bookings on an annual basis, particularly from England and Germany,” according to Andreas Andreadis, president of the Panhellenic Federation of Hotel Owners. “The overall picture for 2010 is similar to that of 2009, with a small increase in arrivals and a small drop in revenue. The uncertainty with regard to the social unrest [in Greece] is the reason for the drop in bookings, rather than the fiscal problems Greece is facing. Maintaining the same level of ‘internal tourism,’ which amounts to 20 percent of tourism revenue, will be a challenge.”
(To Vima 59/8-4, Kykladiki 2220/30-3, Ta Nea 418/17-4 & Foni tis Parou 104/16-4.)

School rooms with no heat

As a result of financial problems, the First Primary school of Paroikia was left with no heating for a week in mid-March. Due to the mild weather this year, pupils did not suffer, even though the temperature in classrooms during the morning hours was low.
“The liquidity problem plaguing the First Primary school of Paroikia is well known,” said Marouso Fragkouli, who represents the school committee. “It’s the result of the large operating costs we’re faced with, partly owing to the old age of the building. The electricity bill of the all-day school housed in a section of the building without radiators amounted to 680 euros, due to the constant use of air-conditioners. We will make sure, however, that we are supplied with petrol for heating. In any case, we still owe money to our suppliers for the petrol we received on two previous occasions.”
(Ta Nea 415/27-3.)

Sea turtle found dead at Langeri

A dead sea turtle was discovered on Langeri beach, Paros, by a local fisherman on the afternoon of 22 March. Coast guard inspectors determined that the turtle was a male careta-careta, a species of turtle that frequents the Greek seas. It measured 70 centimetres in length and 30 centimetres in width, and had blemishes on its head. Photographs of the turtle were sent to the Society for the Protection of Turtles (ARCHELON) and to the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research in Crete (ELKETHE).
“I haven’t been able to deduce from the photos the reason for the blemishes on its head,” Paulos Tsaros, co-ordinator of ARCHELON’s rescue network, said in reply to media questions. “It could have been provoked by any number of reasons. And it’s not right for our minds to go straightaway to fishermen. It’s not fair, as the overwhelming majority of fishermen aid us in our work. These last months we have found many injured or dead turtles on Paros, especially on the northern coast. The last turtle we received from Paros was a small turtle measuring 18 centimetres with one of its flippers missing.”
(Ta Nea 415/27-3.)

Working or not, the crisis sucks

The employers of Paros are putting the squeeze on employees — trying to reduce their pay, scrap Easter bonuses and/or increase working hours without a corresponding pay rise, according to complaints received in recent months by the Union of Employees of the Private Sector of Paros and Antiparos (SIDYPA).
Employers are citing the financial downturn as the reason for these “harsh but necessary” sacrifices. The national government has taken similar moves to scrap bonuses and allowances hitherto enjoyed by public sector employees, as well as to cap pay levels, as part of its economic “rescue package.”
Nation-wide, the official unemployment rate for January stood at 11.3 percent of the workforce, the highest figure of the last six years. The real unemployment rate, however, is estimated to be higher, as many employees are not registered with the labour office or work on an on-and-off basis. Also a substantial number of immigrants do not appear in official records, as they work “on the black.” Particularly hard-hit are the young (28 percent unemployed), women (approximately 1 in 3 out of work) and immigrants.
The Cyclades branch of the Labour Watchdog is currently receiving more than 100 complaints about working conditions on a weekly basis. SIDYPA, the island’s largest trade union, plans to bring these cases to the attention of the public prosecutor in Syros. In its announcement of 23 March, SIDYPA calls on workers to stand up for their rights, even during times of crisis.
(Ta Nea 415/27-3, H Avgi 10787/3-4.)

Palm trees remain under threat

The importation of palm trees from exotic destinations has resulted in the arrival of insects that threaten the indigenous palm trees of Greece. (See “A Caveat to Palm Tree Owners,” March 2010 issue of Paros Life & Naxos Life.)
The two culprits have been identified as Rhynchophorus Ferrugineus, a red palm weevil with a trunk-like nose, and Paysandisia Archon, a moth with the ability to infect and kill a palm. The deadly moth has been detected in the south and west of Paros, as well as on Antiparos. If anyone is aware of the presence of such insects, please call 22840-21249.
(Ta Nea 415/27-3.)


Naxos municipality to grow under reform

At press time, the Kallikratis reform was still going through last-minute changes. It appeared likely that Naxos and Drymalia municipalities will merge and that the resulting municipality of Naxos will assume responsibility for its smaller neighbours, Schoinousa, Donousa, Irakleia and Koufonisi.
“A lot of thinking went into the matter,” Naxos Mayor Nikos Marakis told the press. “We examined whether the smaller islands could stand alone or if they should be included in a powerful municipality. I think it a wise choice for them to be absorbed by Naxos. They will have their own vice-mayor and we must all show an interest in these islands. I believe their development will be on equal terms and we should all look upon them with sensitivity and understanding.”
(Koini Gnomi 2867/15-4 & To Vima 60/15-4.)

Fight against Xydi landfill continues

The residents of Eggares had filed an appeal at the Supreme Administrative Court (STE) to protest the decision of Naxos municipality to construct a sanitary landfill on top of the Xydi hilltop, following an appeal by the residents of Gallini. Both villages are within a 2-kilometre radius of the proposed landfill site.
The Eggares appeal provides the villagers with additional legal arguments against the construction of the landfill in the vicinity of their homes.
“We decided unanimously to proceed with a second appeal against the decision,” stated Spyros Arsenis, the president of Eggares village council, at a meeting that addressed the subject. “We are siding with Gallini on this issue as our interests are mutual: They concern above all the health and safety of the residents of the villages.”
According to the Eggares appeal, the rocky surface on top of the Xydi hilltop makes the site a poor choice for a landfill as there will be a lack of soil that is required to cover deposited refuse. Moreover, the landfill will need to accommodate the waste disposal needs of nearby islands as well, bringing the total waste to be deposited at the landfill to 15 tons annually.
(Kykladiki 2220/30-3.)

Take-off for hydroplanes?

A presidential decree setting out terms and conditions for the operation of hydroplane ports was presented for public discussion in April by Deputy Minister of Transport Nikos Sifounakis. The decree aims to cut the red tape that acts as a disincentive for such initiatives and set a limit of 70 days for the licensing of hydroplane ports. It also sets out the precise requirements for granting licenses to interested parties.
According to Sifounakis, the decree has been pending ratification over the last five years, resulting in a loss of 100 million euros in private investments. For example, the Greek-Canadian Mixalis Patelis tried to launch the first hydroplane company in Greece in 2004. Five years later, having lost 25 million euros, he has decided to return to Canada. At present there is only one hydroplane port in the country, in the port of Volos, for which no environmental impact study was carried out. Greece, with its thousands of islands in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, is an ideal candidate for this type of transport.
(Kykladiki 2225/8-4 & Koini Gnomi

Local Chamber of Commerce opens

The opening of the Naxos office of the Cyclades Chamber of Commerce & Industry took place on 27 March in the presence of local dignitaries and officials. Cyclades Chamber President Giannis Roussos gave a brief account of the history of the chamber and his vision for the future. He described new technological tools available to members of the Chamber (such as video-conferencing) that can enhance the competitiveness of local businesses.
The results of two studies carried out by M.R.B at the Chamber’s request were also presented. The findings from a survey of tourists’ opinions of Naxos and the Cyclades were presented, as was the strategic plan for the development of Naxos. A lively talk between participants and representatives of the Chamber followed.
(Koini Gnomi 2856/29-3 & To Vima 58/1-4.)

Stelida wetland a breeding ground of insects and bad odours

The wetland of Stelida bordering the airport is said to be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and gnats in the summer months, a cause of concern for residents of the area. The inconvenience posed by the insects is compounded by unpleasant smells hovering over the lake, as waste and other residue from farming and industrial processes are dumped into nearby streams that find their way to the marshes. Motorcyclists driving through the area with no helmet have reported they were blinded by the swarming insects.
Area residents collected some 200 signatures and presented a complaint to the mayor’s office in April, demanding immediate action on the matter. In response, Naxos Mayor Nikos Marakis noted that the pesticides previously used in the area were not effective, as gnats re-appeared after a few days. He also noted that “it is not permissible to use other, stronger chemicals, as the risk of exterminating the fauna of the area, as well as of destroying its flora is great.”
He suggested that the area, with its abundant species of wild life, could act as a magnet for those interested in observing animals and birds up close. He proposed the construction of an observation post on the fringes of the wetland for the benefit of bird watchers.
(Kykladiki 2228/13-4, 2229/14-4.)

Cycladic water resources low

The water resources in the Cyclades are at a critical point, as they are estimated to be 200,000 cubic metres short of meeting our present needs. There was not enough rain this year to ensure the islands’ water sufficiency. Even though statistics from the Ministry of Environment show that current water levels in the Aegean islands’ reservoirs are sufficient to meet existing demands, scientists estimate that only 40 percent of the islands’ water resources are usable.
The maximum quantity of water that can be accumulated in the islands’ reservoirs amounts to 527 million cubic metres, of which 61.5 percent, or 325 million cubic metres, relate to the Dodecanese islands. In practical terms, this means that Rhodes and Kos are not expected to face serious water problems, whereas the Cyclades, with a maximum capacity of 55 million cubic metres, face a high risk of drought.
The best solution, according to the Local Union of Municipalities and Communities of the Prefecture of Cyclades, is to proceed with the construction of desalination plants. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport invites all interested parties to submit their views on desalination plants to yme.gr (its Web site) by 17 May.
(Kykladiki 2228/13-4 & Koini Gnomi 2866/14-4.)


Port repairs

Repair work on the port of Paroikia, Paros, is expected to begin by 1 May. The main focus will be the cavities on the base and sides of the quay. The buildings providing shelter to passengers waiting to board the ferries will also be repainted and repaired, while the length of the quay will be covered with industrial tarmac.
(Ta Nea 415/27-3.)

Not enough cops

Police authorities on the island argue they are understaffed, as the present tally of policemen on Paros, 16 in all, is not considered sufficient to meet the needs of the island, particularly during the

Nyet to nets

Drag-nets have had their day, was the message of an E.U. decision banning drag-nets in Greek seas as of 31 May. The 330 trawlers presently fishing in Greek seas will have to replace drag-nets by other types of nets and fish further away from the coast.
(Ta Nea 418/17-4.)

Motorcycle tournament

The first motor-cross tournament was organised by the motorcycling society of Paros on 21 March in the area of Voutakos, drawing an audience of 500 people. There were 26 participants from all over Greece taking part in 12 short races.
(Foni tis Parou 102/26-3.)

Rescue readiness

The Cyclades and Samos branches of the Greek rescue team carried out a mock rescue exercise at the port of Paroikia on 10 April. It consisted of rescue operations carried out in the open sea, as well as on rugged sections of the coastline.
(Koini Gnomi 2865/13-4.)
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