A recent Government decision approving an additional €500,000 for more studies on the River Acheloos diversion to the plain of Thessaly has been heavily criticised as an outrageous waste of public money, especially in these hard times of austerity. This decision is part of a €500 million expenditure line titled “Ε064-Acheloos Diversion”, which is still included in the National Budget and is managed by the Ministry of Development.
Initially conceived in the late 1930’s, the pharaonic Acheloos diversion scheme has been the subject of six rulings by the Council of State, all of which render it illegal on environmental grounds. A seventh decision is pending, based on a preliminary ruling by the European Court of Justice, which regards the compatibility of the scheme’s legal basis with the EU’s Water Framework Directive (Case C-43/10). It is worth noting that the European Commission has refused to provide funding for the construction of the dams and the diversion tunnel since 1994.
Aiming to enrich the notoriously mismanaged water resources of Thessaly, the Acheloos diversion has for decades fed visions of intensifying water demanding agriculture in the heavily farmed region of Thessaly.
According to the alliance of five NGOs that have been campaigning against the scheme since 1992, the Acheloos diversion is an environmental crime that will result in a waste of public money, without at all addressing the root causes of the farming crisis in Thessaly.