The Slovenia Times

Koroška promised post-flood aid will be stepped up

Environment & NaturePolitics
The government holds a forum to meet with mayors, business representatives and others affected by floods and landslides in the Koroška region. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The government pledged to expedite post-flood efforts in Koroška as ministers visited the region nearly two months after devastating floods at a time when the clean-up effort gradually winds down and true reconstruction begins.

Talking to the press after a meeting with the region's mayors, businesses and residents, the prime minister said that the government had been given a lot of useful proposals as to how to overcome the current liquidity crunch in municipal budgets.

The aim is to make sure that the urgently needed and already approved state funds are transferred to the accounts of the municipalities and contractors as soon as possible.

Government representatives were also reminded of the urgency to deploy additional construction machinery in order to step up efforts to clean riverbeds before autumn rains.

"As early as next week, there will be much more of this machinery. Thirty new teams are expected to be on the ground. Today, I met some of the most affected individuals who have lost everything in the floods with one single purpose in mind - to help them overcome the insecurity that still exists for them despite all the big promises and plans of the government," Golob said.

A total of 222 worst-affected families that sustained flood damage exceeding €150,000 will be soon invited to meet with experts to receive advice on how to rebuild their homes or seek government help with that, he vowed. These families will be entitled to free legal aid.

More than 10,300 families have reported flood damage, of which some 7,000 sustained damage up to €30,000.

At the same time, a regional technical assistance office will be set up in Črna na Koroškem to focus primarily on damage to municipal infrastructure.

Črna na Koroškem Mayor Romana Lesjak welcomed the decision as the municipality has been pushing for this since the floods.

According to Boštjan Šefic, the government's point man for reconstruction, the technical office will provide a broad range of services to speed up reconstruction, including assistance and project preparation, and help people directly with home renovation or construction.

Its first task will be to assess the condition of the most damaged buildings and propose solutions to ensure that renovation works can start as soon as possible, he said.

Golob believes efforts are required to ensure more robust preventive measures and to step up the clean-up of watercourses. Minister of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning Uroš Brežan noted that the government had allocated extra funds for this purpose.

Asked about alternative accommodation for people who have lost their homes, the prime minister said safety must come first, noting that quick solutions for new construction were not an option. He thinks it will take at least a year for those people to get new homes.

One major concern in the region is hazardous waste. There used to be a lead and zinc mine in Mežica and the floods have washed thousands of tonnes of silt, some of which contains high levels of heavy metals.

Minister of the Environment, Climate and Energy Bojan Kumer said that a disposal site for such waste could be a landfill owned by the local battery producer Tab Mežica.

But before a final decision is made, results of additional tests must come in to determine the amount of non-hazardous waste that can be used for renovations works.

With the region's road infrastructure badly damaged, local businesses have been urging efforts to expedite the construction of the Third Development Axis, a key expressway linking the region with the rest of the country.

Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek said that the project remained a top priority.

Work on this project continues almost without interruptions, she said, noting that for the next two years flood-affected areas would come first in the distribution of her ministry's budget funds, but projects that had already started would go on.

By the end of this week, all state roads will be passable, she vowed, adding that the goal was to return state infrastructure to the pre-flood level by spring.


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