ROME—Genoa and Parma, Piedmont and Tuscany. Days of torrential rain have rocked Italy, turning streets into rivers, destroying shops and homes, killing four people. Autumn has just started, and there are squeals of protest for the lack of work-safety measures in areas that had already been affected by similar events a few years earlier.
On the one hand, the government has made the body ‘Italia Sicura’ (Safe Italy) operational. On the other hand, environmental groups and business organizations, along with local mayors and technicians are getting organized. On Oct. 15 the ‘Coalition for the Prevention of Hydrogeological Risk’ was presented. It is well known that Italian territory is fragile, and that urbanization has increased the problems in some regions. What is missing so far, according to the Coalition, is “multidisciplinary and systematic interventions,” reports Legambiente, a leading environmentalist’s group in Italy, among the dozens of participating organizations.
On the dock, there are mainly delays in works due to bureaucracy and legal appeals. Today, the government has announced, from the voice of the Democratic Party Deputy Chiara Braga at the Parlamentarian Environment Committee, that the decree ‘Sblocca Italia’ (Unlock Italy) will contain measures to speed up the process: specifically, you can start relevant and urgent works even without tendering, and without going over the limit of €5.2 million set by the EU.
The amendment adds to the promises made by the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi a few days ago, to immediately allocate €25 million for Genoa, to work on the Bisagno creek that overflowed on Oct. 9. The capital of Liguria has so far paid the highest price for the floods with about €300 million of damage, according to Confcommercio. The controversy about the lack of warnings from the regional electronic system, adds up to the memories of the 2011 disaster, when six people lost their lives. Citizens blame politicians for not doing enough to protect and to prevent during the last 3 years.
The Decree ‘Unlock Italy’ has been criticized by the Coalition. They feel the legislative measures “seem to be going in the opposite direction with respect to the implementation of a policy of routine soil conservation that combines environmental protection and hydrogeological risk reduction.” They point their finger in particular against the deposing of local communities “from an active participation with respect to works that relate to their own territory.”
‘Safe Italy,’ which will implement the amendments of ‘Unlock Italy,’ announced that within the first six months of 2015, there will be 1622 works “already funded, but locked”, General Coordinator Erasmo D’Angelis said in a statement. He also assured to release 95 million funds that will reach up to EUR1 billion in the next few days. “This dilemma will end: we have a rule that prevents the block of works that save lives. No legal dispute will stop works.”
Considering the 6,633 Italian municipalities in which there are hydrogeological risk areas present – 82% of the total in which more than 6 million citizens live (Civil Protection data) – it is clear that with the ongoing climate change, conservation of the territory will become a priority for the Italian Government.