Thursday, 19 March 2009

the protest is growing in strength

Today groups of people were seen discussing the issues around the disappeared trees and the about-to-disappear island. And in just two hours, over three hundred more signatures were added to the petition. Generally, outrage is still being felt, not just by the citizens of this town but by native visitors, too (the petition is in Czech so no foreigners signed, although they, too, often stopped by and expressed their interest and support).
And the model duck on the island has attracted media interest so the issues are also being aired by journalists (very cautiously!) and on various newspaper web-forums.
Mostly, people are cross that they haven't been told in advance about the demise of the trees. Or the planned removal of the island. Well, the most often quoted defense by the town's luminaries is that 'information was given out duly, and well in advance'. So a couple of activists spent hours in libraries looking through past issues of local papers, and examining the town hall's past public notices. Yes, there were a few tiny - sort of 'by the way' - mentions of an application for grants for flood prevention back in 2007, but no mention of trees or island in particular, or of the actual extent of the works in question. The actual applications and building permissions, as well as the environment commission approval somehow happened. Quietly. More work needs to be done in this area before any meaningful action could be taken - but I am happy to report that the protest activities must be stirring the Town hall at least a little bit, as the Mayor who until a couple of days ago was always saying 'it's been approved, what can I do now?' has been quoted in a local paper saying he will see what he can do!

So keep those fingers crossed please. The trees can't come back now, but we may - just - save the island. And make sure no other damage is being quietly prepared within this 'flood-prevention project': apparently the grant given for this is 180 000 000 crowns (cca 6 million pounds) that's a lot of money to spend on the poor old river within such a tiny town area as Krumlov. The river rising has always been part of every Spring's picture, sometimes barely lapping the bank, sometimes spilling like fury. But the sturdy mediaeval houses on its banks, built with floods in mind, saw no damage except getting very wet. Unpleasant, yes - some years VERY unpleasant, but people who lived there always knew, and know now, that this may happen from time to time - and the calculations about removing the island would mean a difference of 10cm(!) in the water-height flow. Which actually means no difference at all, given how high the floods can get once in a hundred years or so. And by the way, the biggest flood, in 2002, was allegedly caused not by Nature but at least partly by mismanagement of the outflow of the dam upstream during high water, because its reservoir (Lipno lake) is a popular place with Dutch tourists whose Marina had (allegedly) a contract with the river authority about keeping the water level at a constant height. Whereas before, the lake was always let down in anticipation of Spring surge in its inlets.
But I am no engineer, so maybe I am veering onto a territory I am not qualified to touch. All I can say is that every single person asked who lives in the riverside houses (bar one) has answered to the activists' questions that they would rather suffer the occassional floods than watch the devastation of their so-far gentle and pleasant banks. Let alone the gaping damage to the UNESCO town monument's overall feel. Goodness, they'd better start printing new postcards now that the greenery has gone from the banks!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Aha...things begin to make sense now about the cause of last big flood; thanks for the excellent reporting, Salamander.
It's so great to read about the community's reaction to this ugly act against to poor ducks' home!
Each bit of this beautiful town's fragile beauty chipped away does hurt, I'm sure. Great work on keeping peole informed on the outside :-D
Morgan, Oberlin USA

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you'll find the documents on display at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory in the basement with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'
Douglas Adams - a quotation for every occasion, Universe rest him.
D

salamander said...

How apt! :-)
Well, we are still searching for answers and yes, perhaps a trip to the basement with a leopard repellent might be just the thing.
More on the case in the next blog, probably tomorrow.
Thanks for the support, it really helps.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if this was a useful office to write to, but I did write to the Tourist Planning dept., expressing disappointment and grave concern about the protection of this beautiful UNESCO city, from a family with many friends who all have plans to make Krumlov a holiday base.
:-/ Ever bit may help!
Morgan, Oberlin USA

salamander said...

I am sure every bit helps! Thanks - and definitely more on the progress tomorrow.