Bulgarian AgriMin 'Stunned' by Ex Cabinet Murky Land Sales
Bulgarian Agriculture Minister, Miroslav Naydenov, already asked the prosecutor's office to investigate all acts for changing the status and the sale of State-owned forest territories after 2003. Photo by BGNES
Companies associated with the previous Cabinet of the Three Way Coalition have been allowed to purchase prime waterfront terrains for pocket change with sale prices of BGN 2 per square meter.
The statement was made by Agriculture Minister, Miroslav Naydenov, Wednesday.
He explained he had received a summary of the deals concluded by the regional governors of the coastal regions of Varna and Burgas, who sold the land plots until mid-2008.
The probe has revealed that 143 lucrative terrains on a total of 2 000 acres were sold during the term of the previous Cabinet.
The list of the businesses that purchased them will be provided to the ad hoc parliamentary committee that is conducting a probe of "murky" land purchases and swaps.
Naydenov pledges his Ministry would assist the annulment of all deals involving the sale of lands containing sand dunes.
The recent flurry of checks and reports on these murky deals, known to the public for years, was prompted by the so-called "Dunes Gate" scandal with construction activities on 29 decares of protected sand dunes between Ravda and Nessebar on the Black Sea coast.
It erupted in the last days of 2012 when environmentalists said that the area was part of the Aheloy-Ravda-Nessebar protected area from the Natura 2000.
As a result, it became clear that the area was sold under Naydenov's term without a tender based on an older law that was in force until 2010. The new Forestry Act, passed in 2011, technically does not provide any way of selling State land without tenders but it said it allowed procedures that started before 2010 to be completed under the older law.
In the aftermath, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, ordered Bulgaria's Ministers of Regional Development, Agriculture, and Environment to update the Forestry Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Biological Diversity Act, and the Black Sea Coast Organization Act "so that such deals and construction projects couldn't be allowed."
The PM also ordered the establishment of the special ad hoc committee.
The Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Lilyana Pavlova, pledged that legal amendments will be tabled ASAP to lead to a full ban on construction activities in Bulgaria on plots listed as sand dunes.
All procedures that have been launched for changing statute of protected lands, and that remain open, are to be annulled.
Construction in all protected areas listed in Natura 2000 is to be banned as well.
Bulgarians have been staging large-scale protest rallies against the piliage of the country's nature in Sofia and the other largest cities. The last one took place Tuesday night where thousands gathered to protest again planned construction on "Coral," which is one of the few beautiful Bulgarian beaches left intact.
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