A broken levee, a dormant warning, uncleaned gullies, poorly maintained infrastructure, illegal logging and massive amounts of rain. These are, in short, the hypotheses in search of an answer to the question of what are the causes of the heavy floods in the villages of Karlov and Plovdiv.
According to experts and conservationists, to be sure that deforestation may be among them, a serious survey and study is needed. Therefore, their answer to the serious disaster is: the reasons are complex.
The damage is yet to be assessed, but from the footage distributed by various institutions, as well as on social networks, it can be seen that the disaster is great, and it will take an extremely long time to restore the homes, streets, fields and lives of those affected (according to the head of Directorate “Fire Safety and Protection of the Population” at least one year).
The recapitulation – five villages in Karlovo and one in Plovdiv – the village of Trilistnik are affected by the floods. For two days, some were without electricity and water, and in Sopot they threatened to protest because of the lack of an adequate response. Thousands of people were affected, over 400 houses and yards were destroyed.
|The disaster once again raised the question of where the state stood and whether it could have prevented the flood. According to experts and environmentalists, there is a lack of coordination between the various institutions, there is not enough data (even historical data on the amount of rain, for example – the website of the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology is not working) and there is no active work on prevention.|
The Ministry of Interior houses the aerospace center (opened in 2007 and known as the eye of Emel Etem – (note ed. the then Minister of Disasters and Accidents from DPS), whose main idea and purpose was to help prevent fires and floods. For now, however, according to officials from the Ministry of the Interior, it only manages to show the scale of the damage with a photo from space.The modernization of the center is a project foreseen in the Recovery and Resilience Plan, with the expected funding being over 100 million BGN.
One river – two reasons
The Stryama River – which passes through the affected villages in Karlovsko and reaches Plovdiv – has been completely corrected – i.e. her gait has been altered from her natural one – and this requires constant maintenance. “The rain was in large quantities and this is the reason for the flooding in the villages in Karlovsko. The flooding there was mainly caused by water coming out of the ravines. “Years ago instructions were made to clean and restore dikes, but these instructions were not followed. were fulfilled”, commented Vasil Uzunov, director of the Basin Directorate “Eastern White Sea Region”, to “Bulgaria on Air”, who, together with experts from the “Control” Directorate, went around the area of the disaster.
At the village of Trilistnik (which is located 70 km from the village of Bogdan – which is the most affected in Karlovskogo, but is also along the Stryama river), the reason, according to him, is: a broken dam on the Stryama river near the village of Kalekovets (which is located on 10 km from Trilistnik). The break of the dyke overflows the canals of the “Irrigation Systems” and so the water returns to the village and floods it.
The responsibility for the maintenance, cleaning of the rivers, beds and gullies lies with the Basin directorates. Irrigation Systems is responsible for the maintenance of the dikes. “Dnevnik” contacted the company, but they said that all questions related to the flood should be addressed to the Ministry of Agriculture. From there they requested written questions, to which no answers were received until the completion of the text.
Who is responsible for the rivers?
The Ministry of Environment and Water through the basin directorates, as well as the regional administrations, are responsible for the rivers and whether they are cleaned, which are their risky sections. “Irrigation Systems” is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the dikes (which are outside the populated areas), and for those in the populated areas – the mayors. Competences for cleaning rivers and riverbeds also belong to the Ministry of Internal Affairs through Civil Protection, water expert Lyubomir Kostadinov from the international environmental protection organization WWF explained to “Dnevnik”.
According to him, there is a lot of speculation with the cleaning of rivers, as an example he gives that a company hired to clean a riverbed can under such a pretext extract aggregates.
|It is important for a river to overflow when it is outside a populated place, and when it passes through one – to pass quickly. That’s why in many places the bridges, which in the villages are often built by people at their own discretion, get in the way,” commented Kostadinov.|
The control over what happens to the rivers and how they are cleaned is also in the regional governors and the relevant Basin Directorate, which conclude contracts with companies for investor control.
How the state works
In case of a warning of heavy rainfall and dangerous weather codes, which are sent either by the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology or by the Air Force, instructions are issued to the regional governors, who must prepare teams and be vigilant, he explained to “Dnevnik” Nikolay Nikolov, Director of the Fire Safety and Population Protection Directorate.
“An unprecedented wave and a huge amount of rain are among the main causes of the water element in the Karlovci villages. A huge amount of rain came out, which accumulated energy, dragged down branches and trees and blocked ravines. All this power was not held back by the dam of the Stryama River at the village of Kalekovets,” Nikolov also believes. He did not undertake to indicate a specific cause of the disaster, because of the initiated pre-trial proceedings by the National Investigation Service, and because he was not an expert.
According to him, the work of the state on prevention should be better. Nikolov called the disaster in the area of the villages in Karlovsko “sudden”, as possible factors that aggravated the situation were the uncleaned ravines and illegal logging.
To what extent the cause is illegal logging
Shortly after the disaster, experts and environmentalists suggested that illegal logging could be the cause of the severe flooding. “Illegal and excessive logging means that there is additional pressure on the forest ecosystem, that more than the regulated and sustainable level of wood use is harvested. It is this additional pressure that leads to the disruption of the balance in the ecosystem and, accordingly, to the deterioration of the quality of services, which the forests provide us – including the regulation of water outflow and the prevention of erosion”, Neli Doncheva, coordinator of the “Forests” program of WWF-Bulgaria, explains to “Dnevnik”.
An unprecedented wave and a huge amount of rain are among the main causes of the water feature.
Director of Directorate
According to her, the inability of the forests to perform precisely these regulating functions creates prerequisites for intensifying the negative effects and damage from intense rainfall and other unfavorable climatic conditions.
“This affects the quality of our life, and it has specific financial dimensions. On the one hand – the realized income from illegally harvested wood sinks into someone’s pocket and is a direct loss for the state, and on the other hand, everyone – and especially those directly affected by the damaged people – we are injured and damaged”, the expert also says.
It did not commit itself to finding whether illegal logging may have contributed to and was the root cause of the disaster in Karlovsko. The entire interview, which talks about the role of the forest – here
“The unsightly felling and the fact that people do not take away the cut branches, but leave them in place and when there is a big flood, it carries them away, this is one of the main reasons for the floods”, commented to the BNR Eng. Dimitar Kumanov from the “Balkanka” Association “.
The break of the dike overflows the channels of “Irrigation Systems” and so the water returns to the village of Trilistnik and floods it.
the director of the Basin Directorate
He gives the example that the area of the Stryama River has a significant potential risk of flooding, because there is evidence of outrageous logging in the area, as well as a lot of garbage being dumped into the river. And also that the organization filed a report with the regional eco-inspection after Koprivshtitsa was also flooded a year ago.
|“The modern way of harvesting wood is with some eerie roads that are dug through the mountains for heavy machinery to pass. These roads are water channels and so the water reaches the rivers themselves very quickly, whereas once upon a time, when they cut down trees, they were they pulled them with mules, with horses. Roads are a terrible thing, and in this direction we should think about logging,” says Kuzmanov.|
Official Minister of Agriculture Yavor Gechev, quoted by “Sega” newspaper, denies that there is excessive logging in the area, but announced that an inspection will be carried out for 10 years back. In his words, “perhaps we lack the organization and culture to live with such disasters.”
What’s next for the villages
The interdepartmental commission, which is headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs Ivan Demerdzhiev, and includes 15 other deputy ministers from all ministries, will be responsible for compensating those affected. There are local commissions that will assess the damage to the infrastructure, there is an agricultural commission that will assess the damage to crops and agricultural lands, and there is also a social commission that will be responsible for paying compensation to the victims. The request of the office is to grant half the minimum wage to those affected.
First of all, the affected areas must be cleared, and the army will also be involved in this activity. Defense Minister Dimitar Stoyanov announced that the state will provide temporary housing to those who lost their lives in the floods.