Sewage plant contamination
Residents and visitors came across an unpleasant sight in mid-August when they saw waste from the sewage processing plant of Naxos in Apollonas making its way to the nearby beach, creating a thick crust of foam on the sea’s surface. The plant had overflowed and inadequately processed waste was trickling into the sea below. The plant’s contractor and the mayor of Drymalia arrived in the area to assess the extent of the problem, and the Eparcheio’s health and environment department took seawater samples to determine the level of contamination. The port authorities are expected to draft a report on the matter. Residents of the area expressed their outrage at the latest incident of the sewage plant’s malfunctioning and criticised the mayor of Drymalia for policies pursued in the area. It was suggested that the plant be relocated to another part of the island.
Meanwhile, an on-the-spot inspection of the sewage plant that had been carried out by Eparcheio officials in early March revealed that inadequately processed waste had been ending up in Stelida Lake, endangering the wetland’s ecosystem. The report called for the imposition of a fine of 60,000 euros on the municipality. The head of the Cyclades prefecture, Dimitris Bailas, who was the recipient of the report, called for further inspections to be carried out before the precise amount of the penalty is fixed.
(To Vima tis Naxou 78/19-8)
Cyclades lag behind in waste disposal and recycling
So far there has not been a well thought-out plan in place for the disposal and recycling of waste produced in the Cycladic area. Apart from the threat this poses to the environment and the health issues that it gives rise to, the continued breach of EU standards in the area is likely to lead to hefty fines being imposed on the islands’ authorities. The deadline for Greece’s compliance with EU requirements was 16 July. By this date Greece was required to shut down all its exposed landfills (XADA), restore them to their previous condition and replace them with properly functioning sanitary landfills (XYTA). The latter hinges on the recycling of a substantial amount of the waste produced. Sadly, few, if any, of the Cycladic islands can claim that they live up to the standards of other EU countries. Out of the 22 XADA that used to operate in the area, three have shut down and been fully restored, between 10-12 have ceased operations, but have not yet been restored. For the rest it is ‘business as usual’. While XYTAs are up and running in some of the small Cycladic islands, the larger ones, such as Naxos and Andros, do not yet have their own XYTA. Santorini and Tinos also continue to dispose of their garbage in exposed landfills. In Mykonos, although a XYTA was created, waste continues to be burned in exposed landfills. As for the recycling schemes that have been implemented in many of the islands, their effectiveness is diminished by the fact that only a tiny fraction of the waste finds its way to the blue bins used for recycling. Also many islands do not have sufficient blue bins, while their inhabitants frequently fail to separate their recyclables into heaps of paper, glass, metal cans and plastics. An exception to the above is Syros which recycled 1,190 tonnes of waste in the first five months of 2010, as compared to a combined total of 970 tonnes recycled by Andros, Amorgos, Kea, Paros, Naxos, Sifnos and Mykonos.
(Koini Gnomi 2954/18-8)
Marble Wars II
Further disagreement arose between Naxos authorities on which is the best marble to be used for the pedestrianisation of the Naxos town waterfront. The material that had been selected by the project’s contractor was Karystos marble, a decision that had been initially endorsed by the technical service of the Naxos municipality and the president of the Naxos port treasury, Manolis Manolas. This choice of material provoked the angry response of seven Naxian marble companies that demanded the decision be overturned in favour of local marble. Manolas was convinced by the argument of the local companies and requested that all construction work in the port area from now on uses local, rather than imported, material. Nevertheless, in a recent press release issued by the Naxos municipality technical service it was claimed that Karystos slabs are more durable than Naxian marble, are more economical and are better suited to the needs of the port area, where Karystos marble has already been used. Any change of material, it was claimed, will result in delays in the construction work. In response, the Naxian marble companies stated that the black marble of Karystos constitutes an eyesore for Naxos town. As for questions about the endurance of the local material, they said: “One only needs to go for a walk to the Portara. Further comments are unnecessary.” They also noted that supporting the local economy is a good way to create jobs for locals. A final decision on the matter is pending.
(Koini Gnomi 2958/24-8, 2962/30-8)
Ferry connections uncertain
At the beginning of September the Committee of Maritime Transport (SAS) decided to reduce the amount of subsidies given to ferry companies that cover less frequented routes (the so called ‘barren’ lines) by 10%, in an attempt to cut down on state expenditure. This provoked the wrath of shipping companies that warned there would be little interest in serving these lines as of this autumn. A reduction in the number of ferry connections linking small islands (such as the Minor Cyclades) with the mainland, as well as the neighbouring islands, will pose problems to the inhabitants of these islands, particularly in the winter months. The Union of Municipalities and Communities of the Cyclades issued a press release on the matter arguing that “it will be a catastrophy for the small islands to remain without adequate ferry connections if the shipping companies fail to express an interest in serving these lines. The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Transport must take the necessary measures in order to avoid facing a fait accompli in the middle of the winter.” The statement also called for the need to keep fiscal austerity measures separate from policies pursued in relation to the ‘barren lines’ which require significant subsidisation.
(Kykladiki 2328/2-9, 2331/7-9)
in pre-school facilities
In a press release issued in mid-September, the ‘Popular Movement of Paros’ party put the nursery facilities on the island (paidiko stathmo and vrefonipiako stathmo) under the spotlight. They claim that 246 applications were made by families needing a place for their child in one of the four facilities on the island, of which 161 were accepted and the remaining 85 turned down due to there being insufficient places to meet the demand. The true number of families unable to secure a place for their children might be even greater, argues the press release, if we take into account those who were discouraged from making an application at all due to the conditions that have to be met. The problem is particularly acute for low-income families, where both parents need to work in order to support their household. According to an investigation carried out by Ta Nea Parou-Antiparou, the Regional Office of the South Aegean Precinct notified all Cycladic municipalities and communities at the end of last year about EU schemes that provide funds to islands lacking sufficient pre-school facilities. Nevertheless, nine months on the municipality of Paros had not made an application to be included in such an EU funded programme.
(Ta Nea Parou-Antiparou 440/18-9)
Air ambulance to resume flights
At a meeting held on 17 August, the Velentzeio Foundation (which covers the running costs of the air ambulance) gave the green light for the air ambulance flights to resume. This decision follows the securing of 150,000 euros by the government that will go towards covering the aircraft’s fixed costs. At the same meeting it was decided to authorise the plane’s pilot Euripidis Akalestos to sign the contracts relating to the airplane’s maintenance and insurance, as well as to proceed with the hiring of a co-pilot. After these measures have been taken the airplane will need to be serviced, as it has not carried out any flights for many months. In order to speed up this process the airplane might need to be flown to Germany where it will be subjected to a ‘crash-test’. If all goes well it is expected that the air ambulance will be able to re-commence its flights to Syros and Athens at the end of September.
(Ta Nea tis Parou 437/28-8)
‘Kallikratis’ number crunching
There will be a total of 51councilors in the regional office of the South Aegean, which, following the ‘Kallikratis’ reform, will comprise both the Cyclades and the Dodecanese. Twenty of these will come from the Cycladic islands and 31 from the Dodecanese (proportionately representing each area in terms of population). Paros and Antiparos – with a total 13,890 registered voters – will elect two of these councilors. There will be 27 councilors in the revamped Paros municipality and 13 municipal (rather than community) councilors on Antiparos next year. The maximum expenditure permitted for each candidate during their campaign to become a municipal councilor is 1,500 euros. Their respective political party is also permitted to spend an amount equal to the total expenditure incurred by its candidates. The maximum expenditure for each candidate campaigning to become a regional councilor is 2,500 euros, with the same limitation applying to their party as to the municipal parties.
(Ta Nea Parou-Antiparou 437/28-8)
Most immigrants given the right to vote this year have not signed up
Contrary to expectations of a high foreign turnout in the upcoming municipal elections, a total of just 12,762 (non-EU) immigrants throughout Greece have registered to vote in the November local elections following the passing of the bill giving them this right.
There were just four immigrants on Naxos who signed up this year to vote, three on Paros and none on Antiparos.
According to an announcement issued on the subject by the Ministry of Interior, the granting of the voting right to foreign residents “activates the process of their integration into the Greek community and fortifies the cohesion of the social fabric of the country.”
(Foni tis Parou 124/10-9 & Kykladiki 2332/8-9)
(Editor’s Note: It was reported in the April 2010 issue of Paros Life & Naxos Life that some 266,250 immigrants (amounting to 0.65 percent of the electoral body) were eligible to sign up for the right to vote after the new bill was passed by the Greek parliament giving the right to all long-term, legally residing immigrants to participate in the elections and to stand as municipal councilors. On Paros, the three people who did register come from Albania and from Pakistan.
Vlachoyiannis and Kontos join forces
The current ‘government’ and ‘shadow government’ of Paros, represented by the political parties of Christos Vlachoyiannis and Louis Kontos respectively, decided to join forces ahead of the November local elections. The new party’s name is “United Front of Citizens (the name of Kontos’ party)-United for the Future (the name of Vlachoyiannis’ party). The merging of the two parties and the selection of its new leader took place on 9 September at the Archilochos Hall. Those eligible to participate in the voting process were former municipal and regional councilors, as well as candidates standing for this year’s local elections. Of the 135 people present at the meeting, 89 people took part in the voting, of whom 65 voted for Vlachoyiannis, 21 voted for Kontos and three cast a blank ballot. The president of the municipal council, Antonis Arkas, announcing the results of the vote, congratulated Vlachoyiannis on his election to the party leadership and commended Kontos for his efforts. In accepting his nomination Vlachoyiannis spoke of the need “for the political parties to be at the service of Paros and not for Paros to be at the service of the parties.”
Foni tis Parou saw the merger as a positive development, viewing it as a U-turn from the self-centered initiatives that had been pursued in the past. In the view of Ta Nea Parou-Antiparou, however, the gathering resembled a “meeting of retired army officers reminiscing about their days of glory.”
(Foni tis Parou 124/10-9
& Ta Nea Parou-Antiparou 439/11-9)
Decline in tourist arrivals continues
The decline in arrivals of visitors to Paros continued in August, according to official figures released by the port authorities. According to these figures the number of people who arrived in the port of Paroikia in August 2010 was 136,239, compared to 155,358 in August 2009, representing a drop of 12%. The decrease is even larger when compared to the previous years. One would have to go as far back as August 2004 when the Olympic Games were held in Athens, to find a time when Paros had a worse showing in terms of tourist arrivals during August. The numbers for June and July this year were equally bad.
(Ta Nea Parou-Antiparou 439/11-9)
Post Office move sparks village rivalry
The decision to move the post office that provides postal services to the southeast of the island from Piso Livadi to Marmara sparked angry responses from representatives of the Piso Livadi business community.
A press release issued by the president of the Association of Professionals of Piso Livadi-Logaras ‘O Thalassitis’ questioned the rationale behind this move, suggesting it was politically motivated, in the hope of securing votes from the residents of Marmara. The press release posed the question whether such decisions “aggravate tensions between neighbouring villages” and cast doubt over the transparency of the move.
The Greek postal office (ELTA), in its defense, argued that the move was necessary because the owner of the building which used to house the post office in Piso Livadi did not want to continue leasing it to ELTA and no other suitable office was found in Piso Livadi. Mayor Vlachoyiannis, in a municipal council meeting held on 15 September, suggested that ELTA rents premises to be set up in both Piso Livadi and Marmara; this way he hopes to put an end to the dispute that has arisen between the two villages.
(Ta Nea Parou-Antiparou 439/11-9, 440/18-9)