Pernik District Prosecutor Krassimira Mircheva has charged Environment Minister Neno Dimov and Regional Minister Petya Avramova for the water shortage in Pernik. The city of Pernik and nearby towns are under water restrictions since November 18, after the water in the Studena reservoir fell to critical levels.
Reports emerged early on that the water in the reservoir has been steadily emptying for months but authorities did not take appropriate measures and hid it from the public. Neither the municipal government, the water company nor relevant national institutions warned of the dangerous rate at which the only water source in the region was declining.
This week the mayor of one of the smaller towns near Pernik said they had warned about the problem as early as a year ago. “The water company did not take any measures at all,” Batanovtsi Mayor Radoslav Petrov said. Batanovtsi is one of the most badly affected regions from the water crisis, being left with no water supply up to ten days in a row.
The information that the Studena reservoir had been drained to critical levels was uncovered only after the fact and after the local elections (held in October) were over. The authorities could have imposed the water restrictions much earlier for one. But this might have seemed suicidal for the sitting mayor. Still, Vyara Tserovska from the ruling party GERB did not win a second term and lost to the opposition candidate Stanislav Vladimirov.
Earlier this week the Ecology Ministry admitted that water from the Studena reservoir was rerouted to supply the town of Radomir continuously for the past three years. The minister clarified that redirecting water from the reservoir is only allowed under extreme circumstances, which has not been the case.
Although the district prosecutor drafted and filed the charges with the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, observers remain skeptical. The indictment itself strikes as vague and does not specify what the ministers’ wrongdoing is.
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