Illegal Logging Not to Blame for Deadly Floods in Varna – Minister
Illegal logging accounts for 1/3 of the wood produced in the region of the flood-stricken Varna district of Asparuhovo, according to Agriculture Minister Dimitar Grekov.
The Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna reported a death toll of 12 and massive damage to the infrastructure and housing after heavy rain and severe flooding on Thursday.
Speaking Tuesday in an interview for private TV station bTV, he informed 30% of a total of 1500 cubic meters of wood produced in the period 2010 – 2014 had been cut down without a permit.
Grekov insisted that the amount of 1500 cubic meters of wood concerned a mere 3% of the forest areas and could not have caused the massive flooding which hit the Asparuhovo district on Thursday.
He also pointed out that penalty statements had been issued for the illegal felling in the area and a number of people had been convicted.
Bulgaria's Agriculture Minister, as cited by dnevnik.bg, stressed that the share of illegal felling was dropping and assured that the authorities were exercising stringent oversight.
As regards the overall risk of flooding, Grekov said that dams across the country were filled to 70% of their capacity, with 30% free capacity.
He made clear that controlled releases of flows from dams were being carried out where necessary.
Grekov said that the state-owned company Irrigation Systems, a structure of the Agriculture Ministry, was in charge of 190 dams across the country, of which only one was overflowing, the Pchelina dam, where repair works of facilities were underway.