Flood relief: Not a moment too soon
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Flood relief: Not a moment too soon

Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Just hours after parts of the island were flooded by torrential rain, the Finance Minister announced that work on the long-planned National Flood Relief Project was due to start in four localities next year.

Preparations are already underway on the €56 million project, with an environmental impact assessment being carried out and the planning authority having issued three permits so far.

The project depends on the EU agreeing to finance 85 per cent of the cost and is designed to ease flooding in 12 localities in all: Balzan, Lija, Attard, Iklin, Birkirkara, Gżira, Msida, Żebbuġ, Qormi, Marsa, Żabbar and Marsascala.

The plan is for an underground tunnel network to relieve these flood-prone areas, which were under water early yesterday morning after a night of heavy rainfall.

The project has been on the drawing board for 15 years and media reports show it has been re-launched a number of times – accompanied by largely unchanged plans and ministerial press releases. Residents in these areas will be desperately hoping this time the project will materialise.

Geologist Peter Gatt had criticised the government’s enthusiasm for multi-million euro engineering projects as a solution to the country’s ills when natural systems might be harnessed at a lower cost.

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