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Public Chamber is against expansion of Moscow

March 29, 2012, 11:56 UTC+3

The Moscow Mayor’s Office does not comment on the situation, and deputies of the city legislature day the project is irrevocable

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MOSCOW, March 29 (Itar-Tass) — It was for the first time that the Bigger Moscow project, initiated by Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, was criticized on Wednesday not by some group of human rights activists, but by the Public Chamber, a structure which is quite loyal to the power, the Kommersant writes. The chamber’s members demanded freezing of all works on the expansion, as there had not been public discussions, or the state and ecological expertise. The camber warned the current version of the project does not consider interests of local residents and besides may eliminate the ecological environment of the Moscow region. The Moscow Mayor’s Office does not comment on the situation, and deputies of the city legislature day the project is irrevocable.

The resolution demanding freezing of the Bigger Moscow project, under which the capital city adds 150,000 hectares of the Moscow region’s south-western parts, was made by the working group of the Public Chamber on environment protection. Its co-chairman Sergei Simak said the chamber was not happy with the project as it had not considered public opinion and could threaten the environment. “The project has not had public discussions, or state and ecological expertise,” another participant in the meeting, the World Bank’s expert Sergei Vasiliev said.

Deputy Director of the Geography Institute of Russia’s Academy of Sciences Akrady Tishkov said the idea to relocate Muscovites worries him as “here the priority is given to interests of businesses, not people.” “As soon as the expansion was announced, cottage construction started at agricultural areas, taking advantage of some drawbacks in legislation. Besides, where to relocate to? The region has many unacceptable areas. Are they going to make people live at junkyards?” Tishkov said with indignation. A member of the Moscow city society of nature protection Anton Khlynov said the expansion of the capital city would threaten the so-called green belt of the city: “Legally, many forests would be called settlement areas, and nobody guarantees the forests would be preserved.”

The Public Chamber plans to demand the Bigger Moscow project is stopped until it is discussed thoroughly by the public and until an ecology expertise is made.

The Moscow City Duma took the initiative with bewilderment. “Suspension of the project is impossible from the technical point of view, the stage is over: there was an initiative from the president, then the Federation Council adopts it, so it is actually a law which has come into force, so I cannot understand what public hearings should be organised as senators are working,” the newspaper quotes head of the Moscow Duma’s committee on legislation Alexander Semennikov as saying. On Wednesday, he said, the deputies actually began implementation of the Bigger Moscow project’s new stage, by having adopted in the first reading the laws on territory division of the Moscow agglomeration. Under those documents, from July 1, as the borders of Bigger Moscow are fixes finally, the city will have twelve prefectures.

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