CONSTRUCTION OF SKI-TRACKS NEAR BANSKO POSTPONED
The Ministry of Environment and Waters (MEW) postponed the tender for picking up a concessionaire for the construction of new ski-tracks on the territory of the Pirin park near Bansko, after a claim against the project had been placed by the Balkani ecological association. A five-member team of the Supreme Administrative Court will hear the case on September 21. The construction of a new skiing centre in the Bansko region endangers the national Pirin park of being deleted from UNESCO's list of monuments of the world natural and cultural heritage, an open letter from 29 NGO ecology organizations to Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha says.
The only candidate for the concession was the company Yulen AD, in which Pirin Tourist amd Geotechmin-Consult Ingeneering hold a 34% stake each. Pirin Tourist is the owner of the Bansko hotel in the eponymous town, and has been recently nominated to buy Hemus Air. The Bansko Municipality holds 12% of Yulen AD's assets, and the State Insurance Institure DZI owns 2 per cent of the company. The balance of 18% is in the hands of the state-owned Academica 2000 OOD, which manages students' sports real estates.
If construction of the ski-tracks and chair lifts begins, almost 20 hectares of forests with unique trees such as white fir, spruce, and dwarf pine, aged between 80 and 100 years, would be cut down, and many rare species will disappear, ecologists claim. According to them, the projected construction is in contradiction to three effective Bulgarian laws and three international conventions. On the other hand, the popuation of Bansko is much interested in the construction of the skiing facilities, as winter tourism is its main means of livelihood.
The decision for postponing the choice of a concessionaire was made on August 14 at an extraordinary session of MEW's Committee in charge of the organization and holding of the tender. The decision is the first step to a reasonable settlement of the problem, ecologists believe. They have submitted to the MEW a proposal for granting a concession on the existing skiing facilities in the Pirin region, instead of building new one in contradiction to Bulgarian laws and international conventions. Ecologists have also appealed to the MEW and various organisations to support the development of country tourism, which does not enganger the environment and yet could ensure an influx of tourists throughout the year.