Bulgarian President: Disaster Prevention Is Top Priority

Properties | February 24, 2012, Friday // 15:53|  views

The southern Bulgarian village of Biser was hit by a flood wave on February 6, following a dam failure. Photo by BGNES

The ownership of dams in the country must become clear in full, according to Bulgaria's President, Rosen Plevneliev.

Plevneliev discussed Friday with Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, a series of measures to deal with the damage and devastation from recent floods in southern Bulgaria, in the Region of Haskovo.

"For every dam we must know the owner, the manager, the concessionaire. A small dam can be municipal property, but be managed by "Irrigation Systems" and/or be given on concession. We demand clear ownership registries, a clear responsibility, and clear rules between the owner and the operator, the owner and the concessionaire, "the President stressed.

He further voiced the opinion that the Ministry of Environment and Waters should prepare the form contracts, adding that for him it is extremely important to not only deal with crises, but prevent damages and casualties.

During the week, Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov reported that out of 607 checked dams, 12 are unsafe.

Plevneliev also pointed out the need of reform in the water sector, which will be part of the negotiations for the granting of EU funds in the next program period, after 2013.

He thanked all who took part in the rescue effort, saying he was proud to be the President of people who show solidarity in hard times.

Tsvetanov, on his part, informed that at a Tuesday meeting of a special inter-institutional work group it had been decided to slate BGN 14 M for the disaster-hit areas for countering the damage. The group's decision on the amount that should be given for floods on the Black Sea Coast is forthcoming.

"The dike in the border town of Svilengrad, on the Turkish border, has been rebuilt and the ones in the municipality of Harmanly are in the process of rebuilding," Tsvetanov reported.

Damage from the flood in the southern Bulgarian village of Biser on February 6 is estimated at over BGN 3 M – 55 houses have been destroyed in Biser and the nearby village of Leshnikovo after the cracked wall of the Ivanovo dam broke and submerged adjacent areas.

The amount, however, does not include the damage to the infrastructure, such as the railroad, the roads and the bridges, which will make it many times higher.

The Interior Minister explained Friday that there is a public council from residents of Biser, who will control the distribution of donations – BGN 1 M from the State subsidy of his ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, and about BGN 700 000 from the campaign of the Bulgarian Red Cross. There are also companies which will demolish 46 houses in Biser free of charge while others will donate cement and bricks for new construction.

Tsvetanov, who days earlier declared that dams in Bulgaria were used for money laundering, told Plevneliev Friday that the main problem is the blocked draining pipes and at some places fences, erected in violation of the law, to prevent fish from leaving the dam.

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Tags: warning, alert, UNISDR, Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UN, forecast, overflowing, dams, snowmelt, flood, flooded, Ivanovo, Dam, Cabinet, biser, victims, floods, day of mourning, unsafe, measures, safety, ownership, dams, control, Traicho Traikov, Minister of Economy and Energy, draining, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, president, Rosen Plevneliev


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