Tuesday, 7 April 2009

protest continues

Well, what can I say. There is so much going on that to be brief is hard. The new letter with the embankment residents' denial of the accusations by the Town hall that claimed the works are in response to the residents' exact demands, has now effectively disproved any such claim. So the Town hall called another meeting with the river authority yesterday. Today they issued an official press release.
The press release is 2 pages long (unfortunately just in Czech). It's proud title says 'The town council asks the River authority to consider the possibility of keeping the island under Lazebnicky Bridge'. Hooray, one might think. But read on and soon the arrogant manipulation of its message becomes apparent. Remember, what we want is to keep the island, in its natural form, even if perhaps somewhat reduced in length for compromise, and not to have the banks encased in concrete. Well, this is a quote form our Mayor, Lubos Jedlicka, who says he is trying to find a compromise between the demands of the CK citizens and the council's need to protect them from high water: 'I discussed with the investor the possibility of modification and stabilisation of the island. We may consider a remodelling of the island into a stable hydrodynamic shape, similar to the construction of aircraft wings (!!!?). The island cannot be kept in its present shape...neither the town nor the investor can bear the responsibility of the consequences of some rash scoop-out of the river bed that would leave a dangerous mass of material on its bottom. We must wait for the expert analysis of the project engineer'.
The same project engineer who designed this brutal project in the first place, that is. So that much for the louded and benevolent attempt to keep the island. The rest of the 2 pages then tells us again and again how the island will be disposed of, or kept in this 're-modelled' form. How convenient. Here is another quote, this time from one of the protesters: 'It seems I live in a surreal world. Our striving to retain a natural enclave in the centre of this town has beautifully played into the main investor's hands, in fact it has helped all of those who will participate financially in the project. So the island needn't be removed, but will have a hydrodynamic shape - as if its present shape wasn't formed by water, or was somehow blocking the river at 90 degrees! What fantastic reasons to have to invest more and yet more millions. ... We asked the Town Hall questions*, we sent them to the appropriate departments, to the appropriate officers. We published them on our website. And save for a few evasive phrases in response to our first question, we got no other answers. Why? Because every question is a call for responsibilty. So we complicate the officers' lives, and they in turn erect Don-quixotian mills in our path. What's certain is that we have smoothed the way to yet more lucrative jobs for certain companies...'
I wish someone would have the courage to open the Pandora's box of the opportunities and relationships that underlie this huge investment project. Or should we just give up, and look forward to sitting by a sterile bank of the river in a town that once attracted tourists from all over the world.

*- Why was it necessary to cut down mature trees in the centre of town by the river Vltava?
- Who is directly responsible for the felling of the trees?
- How and from what materials will be reconstructed, and what character will take, the left bank after the works?
- Will there be any changes to the right bank?
- How will the river be in the Summer months, during 'low water' periods when Vltava in its newly deepened bed changes to a narrow 'brook' and the drying mud on its (concrete) sides stinks?
- Where and how can one access detailed plans to the project for the riverbed changes and the reconstruction of the weir? Will they be publicised so the citizens may be informed adequately and early about the planned changes to the historic townscape?
- Is, and has UNESCO been informed about the tree felling and other changes to the look of the historic town?

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