Their own version of events which unfold from Monday morning in square Exarchion deposit at ethnos.gr the residents of the area who strongly react to the construction Mmetro in the square, which, as they claim, will lead to the destruction of the area’s greenery but also of the square as a free space.
Yesterday, Monday, hundreds of citizens gathered in the square protesting the work of cutting down at least 70 large trees expressing their opposition to the move and urgently requesting the relevant permits. In fact, municipal councilors of factions also filed a lawsuit with the AT Exarchion. Today the residents were again present outside the construction site of the square, again asking for the permits, while ELAS proceeded to arrest the protestors.
“We were never shown the permits for cutting the trees”
THE Chrysoula Papageorgioulong-time resident of Exarchia and member of the assembly “No subway at Pl. Exarchion” he was brought in today by the police while he was protesting. Speaking to ethnos.gr describes yesterday’s and today’s events and emphasizes what they asked for repeatedly them empty for cutting trees, something that never happened.
“We estimated that they would indeed come because they existed many publications and many pressures that the project must go ahead. Yesterday (6/11) there was an appointment from 5 in the morning and at 7 past 20 when the machines came, those of us who were in front of the construction site lifted us up, the others were pushed further back to get the machines in, and so the cutting began. Immediately a lot of people gathered, they were shouting, banging on the metal sheets, we were asking them to show us the licenseslicenses were not shown to us. They told a lawyer to go to AT Exarcheion, they didn’t show him licenses, only the memorandum of Attiko Metro with the Municipality of Athens. Lawsuits were filed by two municipal councilors because there is no building permit for cutting trees and given that it is also an archaeological site, a permit is needed and by the archaeological service for the uprooting of trees.
Yesterday afternoon there was a gathering with more than 1000 people, the assembly “No subway in Exarchion square” was the first block and which asked when the march arrived in the square to hang a banner on the sheet metal. We asked for the leader, he didn’t come and in the end they threw tear gas at us, we ate a lot of tear gas,” he testifies.
The protests continued today with residents calling since Tuesday morning in concentration. “Today at 6:20 we realized again that something was going to happen. We entered in front of the door. We asked for permission again and eventually this resulted in arrests because we had sat down,” he says in ethnos.gr Mrs. Papageorgiou.
“We don’t position ourselves negatively in the metro as a whole, but in the metro in the Square”
Mrs. Papageorgiou clarifies about what is being heard about the refusal of the residents to a people-friendly means of transport that will breathe life into the center, they are not positioned overall against the metro obviously, but to the metro in Exarcheion Square as there are many problematic parameters and insufficient studies. As he explains: “To finish. The convention has published material on the public transportation and is not placed overall against the metro obviously. It is located from the beginning against the subway in Exarchion Square. And this is because: the only square in the neighborhood is being destroyed, but also of the square as a free space and as a green space in the area as trees that are currently 70 years old will take many years to grow again. In addition, the square is historic and professors and urban planners have been placed in it. Also the metro has nothing to offer as the area is adjacent to three existing metro stations none of which are more than a 6 minute walk away, no connection super old and may cause more congestion on the surrounding roads as they have cut off local transport for years. In addition, there is no traffic study on how heavy vehicles will move in the neighborhood, something that the rapporteur of the CoE also admitted, a truck here makes at least 4 maneuvers because it does not fit. Also, the square is the gathering point for the residents in the event of an earthquake, but the square no longer exists. Finally, it will also create problems for the preserved buildings around the square, in fact the residents have sent an email asking if there is a risk of static, to which the company has not responded.”
This is a lie about transplants
As for the Green balance with the tree transplants mentioned in the Attiko Metro announcement, Ms. Papageorgiou characterizes it as “lie” and emphasizes “all the trees that were cut from Exarcheion Square and transplanted to Michalakopoulou were burned. In Nicaea, they moved the two palm trees planted by the refugees in 1922, which were also burned. No transplant program has succeeded, because it’s not like I’m taking a tree and putting it somewhere.”
“As for the claim of the Municipality of Athens that it will plant trees on the Hill of Strefi, the horticultural study of Strefi defines category D1 trees, i.e. 20-25 cm, i.e. shrubs. Well, one cannot digest that the bushes have the same value as the big trees in the square, in an overburdened center,” he adds.
Until, however, the residents see the corresponding permits required for the cutting of the trees in the square, as Ms. Papageorgiou tells us, “they will continue”. “When we have permits we will decide. We remain in the square” he concludes.
What does the “Hellenic Metro” answer about the cut trees in Exarchia
According to her announcement “Greek Metro”.“, is currently being pruned about 90% of the trees which are within the existing construction site fencing, in order to be temporarily transplanted in accordance with the provisions of the AEPO and the instructions and supervision of the Green Department of the Municipality of Athens in the nursery of the Municipality of Athens.
Subsequently, these trees, after receiving the appropriate cultivation care, will be transplanted by the Regeneration Company SA. in green spaces near the said square in accordance with the provisions of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, the Municipality of Athens, ELLINIKO METRO S.A. and of Anaplasi SA.
“Additionally, according to the Memorandum of Cooperation between HELLENIC METRO S.A., the Municipality of Athens and the company ANAPLASI S.A., it is for the first time in the construction of Metro projects in Greece that 2,000 new trees will be planted during the initial phase of the works. in positions that will be indicated by the Municipality of Athens, in addition to those that ELLINIKO METRO S.A. has an obligation to plant in accordance with the approved environmental licensing of the project in the framework of the restoration of the Square in order to maintain the balance”.
Regarding the protection of the environment, the company points out that the Metro is the most environmentally friendly means of transport in big cities. When it is operational, 340,000 passengers will be served daily, 53,000 fewer cars per day will be on the roads, 17,000 fewer tons of carbon dioxide per year will be released into the atmosphere, 1,216 MWh of energy will be saved daily. He adds that when drawing up the studies for the tender of of projects concerning the street levels, i.e. the renovations of the squares, integrates the constructions (entrance, elevator, ventilation shafts, stairs, etc.) into the original philosophy of the squares, guided by the landscape design, preserving their dominant elements , such as playgrounds, fountains, statues/busts and of course the green while simultaneously upgrading and modernizing all the equipment. In other words, it respects the original design and enriches it with the requirements and new data of the underground presence of a metro station. For Exarcheion Square – it is noted in the announcement – these terminations occupy much less than 10% of the square’s surface. Specifically, at the “Exarchia” station, the area of the Metro facilities (stairs, elevators, ventilation shafts, etc.) will be 243.00 m2 out of the 2,984 m2 of the square.
The announcement of “Hellenic Metro” concludes by stating that “the public consultation process for the project lasted a particularly long period of time (8 months) from 02.02.2017 to 06.10.2017 and that during the period of the public consultation no objection was submitted in this context for the construction of the station in Exarchion square”.