Toma Belev is probably competing for the prize Ecologist of the Ecologists because a report of his for “encroachment on nature” is oriented towards an approved construction project “200 meters away” from Vitosha Nature Park. In fact, the districts of Dragalevtsi, Simeonovo and Boyana have been in Vitosha since the beginning of their existence. According to Belev quoted by Mediapool, he has personally checked the case and has probably measured the distance from the border line of Vitosha Nature Park in his capacity of municipal councillor from Democratic Bulgaria and then made up a prohibition that was never in force.
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Toma Belev is municipal councillor from Democratic Bulgaria in Sofia
What does Belev count on when reporting a non-existent violation? First, on a media to publish what he says, whatever it is, and second, that no one would bother to read the Protected Territories Act and the Management Plan of Vitosha Nature Park. If anyone reads it, though, they would find that there is no limitation in meters for the distance between the park’s border and building construction sites. The fact that it is forbidden to carry out production activities with potential harmful impact on the environment has nothing to do with the construction of a closed-type residential complex where no attempt is made to breach into the territory of Vitosha Nature Park.
In order to imitate hyperactivity, however, the restless “finder” of ecological problems Belev insists that the Minister of Environment Emil Dimitrov should personally go to the site and check how a permission to build was given in an area that has all relevant permissions for the construction in question, because the activity does not violate any laws or ordinances. And to make it clear which place we are talking about, this is happening in the village of Bistritsa, Pancherevo area, i.e. the construction site is on the territory of the village. It is not clear whether Belev intends to ask the Minister of Environment to check whether the other houses in the village are legally built.
Anyone is free to check that in fact there is not a single prohibiting or limiting text with respect to erecting a residential building with a view of a protected territory.
Toma Belev, who, according to a decision of the Supreme Court, is an illegitimate chair of the Association of Parks in Bulgaria, and is the main reason for the current sorry state of the tree species on Vitosha, is suspiciously active when the matter concerns a visibly huge investment in building luxury apartments.
Let us consider his illegitimate role as a chair of the APB.
Immediately after the issue of the decision of the Supreme Court Belev held a new general meeting where he was re-elected as chair. The organization copies the functions of the state park management while working for private interests. Even though the statute says that the members of the organization are the directors of the nature parks, coincidentally or not, they are listed by name and their membership is not dependent on changes in the management in the respective parks. The activities of APB include commercial activity in protected territories generating profit from tourism, agriculture, marketing, advertisement policy, development of strategies and submission of proposals for international projects.
After Belev was fired from the director’s position at Vitosha Nature Park and blocked any attempts to renovate the cable cars on the mountain, suddenly he demonstrated direct interest in a private construction site located in the village of Bistritsa. Would a financial injection from the investor lead to an immediate improvement of Belev’s attitude towards the new site? The complex encompassing 4.3 ha of land can turn from a “destroyer of the environment” into an “eco-friendly complex, low rise with a refreshing view of Vitosha’s slopes.”
The truth about APB is that the organization is a Trojan horse whose members playing simultaneously in a state structure and a private structure with commercial activity use inside information to manipulate any publicly presented information. The generation of profit from tourism at APB also means that the most popular sites are given to personal connections who repay accordingly.
While managing Vitosha Nature Park, Belev was also head of the managing board of Green Balkans. In 2007 this NGO received BGN 9 million to designate the Natura 2000 zones in Bulgaria. As a result, 34% of the country’s territory became protected – from investments, in the first place. Any activity on such territories, especially concerning species conservation can be carried out only by the right NGO.
Belev made a cluster (a very popular word nowadays) of non-governmental subjects and in 2013 the directorate of Balgarka Nature Park, included in APB, contracted Balgarka Union – 2011 for the preparation of an inventory of the biotic components of the management plan of Balgarka Park for BGN 340 000. Balgarka Union is owned by Ecological Centre EOOD, which is owned by Green Balkans represented by Toma Belev, the World Wildlife Fund managed by Belev’s wife, Veselina Kavrakova, and a sole proprietorship of WWF – Marsileya EOOD.
A construction site in the village of Bistritsa with proper documentation whose preparation started in 2016 is now in the crosshairs of Toma Belev, this time in his capacity of municipal councillor (it is always important to know which role to choose). Why? The investor apparently told him to go on his merry way without allowing him to advertise anything from the future apartment complex.