Our Perspective: Unacceptable delays in moving Dali asphalt plants

Following another recent demonstration by Dali residents on the delay in moving two polluting asphalt plants in their area, MPs again raised the topic on Wednesday in the House environment committee. Leading up to the charge, Greens leader Charalambos Theopemptou accused the relevant authorities of having no interest in the health and safety of local students.

For the past eight years, people have been suffering, breathing and sleeping in dirty air, he told MPs.

The government has not exactly been active in the situation. It took them eight years to make the decision to move the two offensive plants, and now 14 months have passed without any progress to be said.

Part of the problem is the opposition of local community leaders in the Koshi area that the government has designated as a relocation site. How they decided to move a problem from one residential area to another location where people would be affected is anyone’s guess but that, along with having a feasibility study, has further delayed the move.

Even allowing the bureaucracy, 14 months is an unacceptable period of time, in addition to the past eight years, for residents to wait for little progress that will indicate that the state cares about their health.

Theopemptou, at a previous committee meeting revealed that according to an EU study in 2018 – the last available statistics – in Cyprus 600 to 800 people die prematurely each year due to poor air quality that they inhale.

“That effectively means that every day two people die prematurely because of bad air quality, which is unacceptable and disturbing,” he said. “It’s not just something to breathe bad air, people are really dying …”

Most of these deaths are clearly attributed to transportation pollution, but factory emissions are also a contributing factor to premature deaths. The government does not seem to take these types of deaths as seriously as it should. We saw that recently during two major factory fires which required a group of academics to point out government lapses, from failure to make wind measurements to loose inspections at old facilities at risk. of fire.

There are major Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) plans for eco industrial estates and reductions in transportation emissions, and all will be put right under the green transition but that is far from it.

In a landmark decision in 2008, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that citizens of EU member states have a legal right to breathe air that is not dangerous to their health. Because the government puts public health as a top priority, it also needs to act more quickly on ‘little things’, for example, relocating some factories.

If it doesn’t handle it in a reasonable amount of time, what hope is there to deliver the more demanding RRP commitments on time.

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