Analysis. In the wake of a tragedy, the Chamber of Deputies has raised the fact that millions have been allocated to mitigate risks, but the money was never spent.

In Ischia, 49% of the territory is high risk for landslides but funds aren’t being used

The Ischia landslide and hydrogeological instability were the topics of Environment Minister Pichetto Fratin’s question time on Tuesday in the Chamber. A minute of silence was observed for the eight victims of Casamicciola (while the bodies of the four missing are still being searched for); on Wednesday, Civil Protection Minister Musumeci presented his briefing while the Council of Ministers approved the first aid for Casamicciola and Lacco Ameno.

“Forty-nine percent of the territory of Ischia is classified at a high and very high risk of landslides in the Hydrogeological Structural Plans, with more than 13,000 people living in the areas of highest danger,” explained the minister. “Twelve years ago, the Ministry of the Environment allocated interventions of €3.1 million for the safety of the coastal area, for the reduction of erosion and stabilization of slopes in the municipality of Casamicciola, but the interventions are still at the planning stage. The intense urbanization of large areas of the island, not always done according to plans, has resulted in the raising of the risk level to the highest.”

Something Pichetto didn’t mention is that in addition to this amount, there were €2.5 million allocated in 2021 by the Interior Ministry for hydrogeological risk mitigation which were never spent.

The minister took aim at Governor De Luca: “The plan of risk mitigation interventions for 2022 is being put together: 139 interventions for more than €350 million, and there are no proposals from the Campania region for the municipalities of Ischia.”

Italia Viva’s Maria Elena Boschi insisted that the Italia Sicura framework should have been kept (one of Renzi’s proudest achievements) but the government has stopped it (former M5S minister Costa recalled that it had resulted in “delaying and bureaucratizing every item of paperwork by an average of a year”).

The Left and the Greens called on the government to say a clear no to new amnesties for illegal building. “We are committed to the approval and implementation of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan,” was the minister’s reply. “It seems clear to me that it is impossible to approve measures that would undermine the ability to increase the safety of our territory. The last Council of Ministers committed to adopt the Plan by the end of the year, which will have as one of its main focuses the fight against hydrogeological instability.”

He continued: “In the budget law there is a fund to fight land overuse with an endowment of €160 million. We will find resources to get updated geological and geothematic mapping for the country. By the end of 2022, there will be 67 new geological and six geothematic projects.”

Pichetto had said in the morning that “when it comes to illegal construction, we need to map out Italy, but it is a matter of making a timely assessment. So many applications for the 110% bonus could not be submitted because there was a door or window that was not documented. Illegal building in dangerous places is another thing entirely.” That is an attitude that leaves room for abuse.

In reply, Costa came with an invitation: “We at the M5S are willing to make a legislative pact to write a new law on land consumption together … We have suffered three building amnesties signed by the Craxi and Berlusconi governments in 1985, 1994 and 2003. Those who are claiming that in 2018, under Conte, there was a fourth amnesty are spreading an untruth.”

The PD (with the Greens and Left) proposed to use the €400 million (provided in the budget law to be assigned by Parliament) for the prevention of hydrogeological risk. Roberto Morassut criticized Meloni: “In her speech on the programmatic lines of her government, Meloni completely disregarded having knowledge of hydrogeological disruption. On the issue of soil consumption, what is needed is not just to allocate funds, but to complete a work that Parliament had already started.”

The Greens’ Angelo Bonelli criticized Minister Pichetto: “Faced with the request to allocate money to finish the geological mapping because 300 sheets are missing, the minister said he was doing 63. On the building amnesty, he did not have the courage to answer us with a clear ‘No, we will not do any building amnesty.’”

There’s also a tug-of-war between the Campania region and the national government. De Luca vetoed the appointment of Simonetta Calcaterra as leader of the commission for the flood emergency in Casamicciola; then the government proposed Naples prefect Palomba, but De Luca’s choice ultimately prevailed: Giovanni Legnini, the commissioner for the reconstruction of Casamicciola after the 2017 earthquake.

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