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NEWS | Sunday, 04 May 2008

No approval for ‘risky’ Ghar id-Dud excavations

James Debono

The Lands Department has not yet approved excavations under a kiosk on the Ghar id-Dud promenade, authorised by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority last January despite a report warning that the collapse of the underlying caves could cause a tragedy.
Since the land is government owned, permits for excavation under the Ghar id-Dud promenade also require a permit from the Lands Department.
“The government has not yet taken decision on the matter. In any case the allocation of government land in such cases requires the issue of a public call for tenders, according to the provisions of the Disposal of Government Land Act,” a spokesperson for the Lands Department told MaltaToday.
MaltaToday is informed that once a MEPA permit is issued, a tender for the leasing of the underground part has to be issued by the Government’s Property Division before any works commence.
In November, MaltaToday revealed that a geological report commissioned by the Sliema local council warned that the Ghar id-Dud caves may partially or totally collapse, leading to the caving-in of the overlying pedestrian promenade.
“If collapse is sudden and during daytime or early night time, injury and loss of lives may result,” the report warned.
But a MEPA spokesperson insisted that the authority’s own studies show that excavations can still take place in the area between Qui-Si-Sana and the (now defunct) Chalet, where the kiosk is located and a car park was previously planned.
The permit for excavations to make way for underground storage area beneath one of the Ghar id-Dud kiosks was approved on 22 January.
Green Party councillor Michael Briguglio called on MEPA to give an explanation as to how excavation shall be permitted “in the delicate scenario” emerging from the Sliema council’s own report.
But MEPA insists that it had given full consideration to safety aspects and stability of the caves, quoting studies which show that excavation works can take place between the northern part of the Chalet and the corner of Qui-si-Sana.

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