Friday, October 05, 2007

Malta: Government starts destroying archaeological site

Source: maltaStar

Wasteserv, government’s waste management company, ordered excavators to start digging up and clearing away an archaeological site at Tal-Kus, Gozo, to make way for the foundations of a waste transfer station.

On Friday a large excavator arrived on site, in Xewkija, and started digging down the rocky surface on which the archaeological remains lie. The Xewkija Local Council asked the court to intervene and stop the destruction, but the Wasteserv contractor only stopped for a few hours, and continued late in the afternoon of the same day.

On Saturday morning the contractor returned to the site with the excavator and continued cutting rocks on the archaeological site. When local councillors tried to stop him, the contractor walked away, only to return a few minutes later and continue working. Eventually police had to be called in to enforce the court order and put a stop to the contractor’s abuse.
Dr Monica Vella, the Xewkija mayor, explained that in July, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, issued a detailed report to reconfirm that the importance of the site in question, and of the precious archaeological remains found in it. Yet, despite all this, Wasteserv persisted in its plans to build a Waste Transfer Station to process all of Gozo’s domestic waste.

In order to stop the excavators contracted by Wasteserv, the local council asked the Gozo Courts to issue a prohibitory injuction and stop Wasteserv from destroying the site. The courts temporarily accepted the request and asked the government company, and its contractors, to refrain from “carrying out excavation works, rock cutting, cleaning or other construction works in the Waste Transfer Station project.” The court will take a final decision on whether or not to uphold the prohibition of works, in the coming days.

In the meantime, is informed that officials from the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage are expected to visit the site in the coming days to inspect the damage.

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