Owners of land crossed by Cahul-Giurgiulesti rail line will be obliged to sell
People owning land in the path of the new Cahul-Giurgiulesti rail line will be obliged by a public-right-of-way law to sell their plots. The Parliament on Thursday, April 3, passed a relevant bill in first reading, with the vote of the Communist majority, despite bitter objections from the Opposition, Info-Prim Neo reports. The bill stipulates the expropriation of property owners in the public interest, which shall be made through court decision and with fair and prior compensation. Land and Cadastre Agency’s director Alexandr Bannicov explained the bill was initiated because some of the landowners from the villages crossed by the new rail line were stubbornly refusing to sell or claimed unreasonable reparations, “thus displaying indifference to the efforts of the government to rationalize the use of the Giurgiulesti International Free Port”. According to him, 490 proprietors have already sold their plots, with 56 remaining. Three of them are obstinately against selling, another eight have demanded too much, while the rest have various problems with their property papers. Bannicov pointed out that the current situation may delay the work on the railroad track, which is supposed to be put into use in late August. Bannicov also remarked the Government was offering a price of 56,500 lei/ha, as against the national average price of 5,000 to 7,000 lei per 1 ha. The Opposition reacted negatively to the bill. National-Liberal leader Vitalia Pavlicenco stated that the rail line project was in fact a money-laundering scheme, one of the firms engaged in constructions being owned by President Voronin’s son. Independent MP Ion Neagu has remarked that the land owners are forced into selling their plots for fiddling sums of money, while the construction works are executed in disregard of warnings from environmentalists. MP Leonid Bujor of the Moldova Noastra Alliance declared that the Government had severely violated the legislation when it at first kicked off the construction project and only then started to conclude contracts for the plot lands and initiated the expropriation proposal. Bujor also accused the Government of interfering with the constitutionally guaranteed property rights of the citizens. Several Opposition parliamentarians warned that the expropriations may trigger a new wave of suits against Moldova at the European Court. In retort, Communist MP Anatol Zagorodnii declared that the Opposition has politicized the issue, unwilling to recognize the fact that the facilities under construction in southern Moldova would improve the living standards and boost investments into the country. The Communist MP also remarked that the European Court has examined a multitude of expropriation claims and, in most of the cases, ruled in favor of the states and not of the plaintiffs. 22 km of rails of the 50 km-long branch have been already laid. The total cost of the project is estimated at 837 million lei. The rail line is supposed to cross the Prut Wetlands, a natural reservation protected by domestic laws and international conventions. Environmentalists have repeatedly warned that construction works in the region will have a disastrous impact on a series of critically endangered fish and bird species and may lead to soil erosion and landslides.