Government halts construction at site of ‘tree massacre’

  Aug 23, 2021 9:18 am Ibrar Younas 431
THE construction of over 100 homes on the mountains above Girne described as a “nature massacre” has been halted and site sealed off.

Government halts construction at site of ‘tree massacre’

Taken from this week's issue.

The “eyesore”, visible for miles around and where two massive cranes had been installed, became the subject of a heated legal and political row after the issue was first reported two weeks ago by Cyprus Today’s sister newspaper Kıbrıs.

The Supreme Administrative Court made a decision to stop construction of the complex started by the Güven Yapı Cooperative, set up by the Security Forces Command. 

After the court decision, Girne Municipality officials went to the area, previously a military zone, on Tuesday and sealed off the construction site.

In addition, the cancellation of the 2017 and 2018 Council of Ministers’ decisions regarding the lease of this land to Güven Yapı Ltd for a 49-year period was published in the Official Gazette and took effect on the same day.

Prime Minister Ersan Saner said that steps would be taken for the land in question to become “forest land”.

“Because the said lands will not be used for military purposes, the Council of Ministers decided to cancel its use because it does not constitute a public benefit and has been purchased unlawfully and/or improperly,” the Council of Ministers’ latest decision said.

Hasan Sarpten, the former head of the Biologists Association, said: “With the publication of the official decision, we will work and follow up so the region can return to its natural state and complete the rehabilitation process. We will try to do this scientifically.”

One of the lawyers of the case, Emre Efendi, said: “The next process will continue to take place in the court. The information we received is that the relevant [construction] company continued to work in the morning hours as well. 

“Based on this, Girne Municipality was informed and they sealed off [the site]. There is a case on the court agenda and therefore it would not be right to say too much. Our main goal was to protect public interest. We have obtained an interim order to do so. We had no other purpose. The next process will now continue in court.”

Akan Kürşat, a lawyer acting on behalf of the Security Forces Command Güven Yapı Cooperative, said in a public statement that its members would use their legal rights. 

“By putting up all their life savings and also borrowing from the banks, our client, the Cooperative, and its members, have already paid millions of pounds in spending and expenses up to now,” he said.

The statement continued: “After Güven Yapı Cooperative Ltd completed all legal leasing transactions, obtained all permits and fulfilled the legal conditions, the aim is to abolish the rights of the Cooperative members and their families, who have devoted their lives to protecting the lands of the country and to stop or prevent construction activities that have been started and progressed since 2017 with great effort and money. 

“It is respectfully announced to the public that legal rights will be exercised by resolutely standing against all kinds of seizure, acts or administrative actions, including the Council of Ministers’ decisions, and that the Cooperative and its members will not remain silent against actions aimed at wearing down the Security Forces Command.”

Meanwhile the Council of Ministers also announced that land belonging to Norman Alexander Shelley in Karaman (Karmi) was removed from “forest land” classification.