When the party said it would give, these were only words

Czeslaw Ryszka

No matter who our President is he will have to face the tragic effects of the floods. In spite of the fact that the fate of the flood-affected people is in the hands of the Prime Minister and the government there were so many promises made during the presidential campaign that withdrawal from help would be shameful. Actually, it will not be easy because on 19 July 2010 the law concerning collective lawsuits comes into force and as we know over 400 businessmen from Sandomierz have already prepared a notice to the public prosecutor’s office, accusing the government of Civic Platform-Polish Peasants’ Party of negligence in preventing the tragic effects of the recent floods. It will be the first collective lawsuit, demanding the government to fulfil its constitutional obligation, which is citizens’ security, in this case building bulwarks, storage reservoirs, river regulations, amelioration of meadows and fields.
The lawsuit has been justified well because the government gave permissions to build houses on the areas, which have been flooded many times, e.g. in Sandomierz, commencing from the 1960s residential districts, private companies, window glass works, fodder factory and even a railway station with facilities were constructed in the dangerous land. The lawsuit states that if such buildings were located their security and protection should have been provided.
This is not the only form of protest of the flood-affected people against the inaction of the authorities. A group of citizens from Tarnobrzeg wants to punish those who were guilty of negligence, which according to them caused the flooding of several districts. Therefore, several dozen inhabitants of the district of Wielowies informed the district prosecutor of possible crimes. The notice concerns poor protection of the bulwarks in Kosmierzow: after the bulwarks had been broken up, Wielowies and some other places were flooded. Moreover, in Kosmierzow the breach has some 160 m and it has not been mended.
The Prime Minister who had come to this area blamed the local village-mayor, saying, ‘I have not voted for your mayor.’ He also said that people should remember and held accountable all those who ‘screwed.’ But it is not a village-mayor that is responsible for the low importance of water economy as a field of the national economy in Poland. Why did the Prime Minister put responsibility on others then?
The above-mentioned 400 firms in Sandomierz, although actually disappeared, have not suspended their activities because it would mean their liquidations. And they count on the tax reliefs, loans or financial help – salaries for their workers. So far they have not received anything concrete and although two months passed after the first flood there have been no suitable bills and the bills, the Parliament and the Senate have passed, must be accepted by the European Commission first because they contain regulations concerning public help for entrepreneurs. The additional difficulty in gaining the help can be the fact that the flooded buildings were not only factories but also offices, which means losses of documents, computers. But the laws that the Parliament passed expect people to show guarantees, mortgages and even documents concerning paid contributions. Another disadvantage of these bills is the limitation of granting help only for the events and situations of the flood-effected people in May and June 2010. In case of another flood a new bill must be prepared.
I want to mention the important legislative initiative of late President Lech Kaczynski, who in February 2010 put forward a project of a bill concerning the creation of the Fund for Victims of Natural Disasters. The presidential project was rejected during the first reading in the Parliament on 25 July 2008 by the MPs from ruling Civic Platform. Now it would be needed very much. That’s why Law and Justice prepared a similar project ‘About Aid for Victims of Disasters’ and another project changing the regulations to forbid constructing houses in the areas that could be flooded. Floods happen and we simply need to prepare ourselves so that losses are minimal. Therefore, one should foresee things. Local authorities cannot cope with flood effects now and will not be able to cope with them in the future. They need many billion zloty. The government thinks that they are coping with the problem well but this tragedy shows that the government does not fulfil its role on the local and national levels. The last inspection of the Supreme Chamber of Control showed that the present government had done little to prevent the threats and it only pretended actions. That’s why the above-mentioned lawsuit is an important test of Polish democracy. It is time to struggle for a strong and efficient state and we should not agree to have the so-called oral democracy. It was during the period of the Polish People’s Republic: when the party said that it would give, these were only words.
Will the court accept the arguments of those affected by the flood? Will their losses be compensated? We will see the worth of the visits of the Prime Minister and the politicians of Civic Platform on the bulwarks, their manifestations of compassion and making promises. Will the promises ever come true?

"Niedziela" 28/2010

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl