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State funded Budapest dam project heavily criticised

A new dam with a total cost of 4.8bn forint is planned to be built in north Buda on the western side of the Danube called the “Roman shore” (Római Part). Megaprojects with state funding are always a question of politics, which has been unofficially confirmed by the mayor of Budapest in a recent public interview. As such, political interests overwrite simple economic terms such as the rate of return, feasibility issues, or the priority of preserving natural areas.

“The dam would save thousands of people from the flooding” – so goes the political marketing from the mayor himself. There are fourty properties legally built in the area inhabited by less than a hundred people, where the vast majority of the buildings are illegally built. On the other hand, a simple cost-benefit analysis would go as follows: with the dam being built, there would be a massive appreciation in value of these properties – a free gift from the state itself. To add to the oddity a feasibility study even states that in case of a massive flooding the dam would be ineffective, and the area would still have to be evacuated in case of a flood (according to experts the latest emergency plan updates would not even consider this new dam to have any use in case of a massive flooding).

In short, the project in question evoked interest of several non-profit and environmental organizations for several reasons. First, the official plans contain many factual errors, and are quite detached from reality. Second, there is a serious conflict of interest as the independent advisors have financial interest in the design and the implementation process (the ad hoc committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences dismisses such accusations).

In case of a massive flooding the actual secondary dam that would be able to save the city from the flooding on Nanasi-Kiralyok street is in a disastrous shape. Financial resources were available up to 180bn forints from the EU to rebuild this second dam but the mayor’s office did not apply for the aid. Instead, it gives green light to a 5bn forint project with no real potential to withhold a flooding, by destroying the Hungarian capitals only remaining natural Danube shore, that has been a popular leisure destination for many generations.

This article was originally published in Hungarian language on 30 May 2013.

Translated by atlatszo.hu volunteers.

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