Friday, April 15, 2011

Victory for activists fighting to save historic Bucharest

BUCHAREST — A Romanian court has declared illegal a document used as the basis for the demolition of historic buildings in Bucharest, a court said on Thursday.

The court on Tuesday said that the document issued by local authorities in 2006 delimiting the public area to be altered by the construction of a four-lane boulevard was invalid. The municipality said it would file an appeal against this decision.

A number of groups have called on the municipality to stop the construction works. But 75 buildings have already been demolished and 1,000 people evicted for the project.

"All documents subsequently issued by the municipality are based on the one that was declared illegal. This means that all demolition, eviction, delisting and construction operations are illegal", Nicusor Dan, chairman of the Save Bucharest Association, told reporters.

Bucharest's mayor Sorin Oprescu has argued that the road will relieve traffic congestion and that the historic buildings were in a bad state.

For many residents the project recalled the bulldozing of entire districts by the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu to build a huge palace in the 1980s.

The Union of Architects in Romania and NGOs have called on several EU commissioners for help, saying the project "was continuing the urbanistic moves of Ceausescu's dictatorial regime" and was "brutally violating the principles of an integrated city development."

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