Billions against nature: Muscovites don't want to turn Bitsevsky forest into a park
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Billions against nature: Muscovites don't want to turn Bitsevsky forest into a park

15 December 2020, 14:31PoliticsPhoto: vk.com
Geodetic surveys began in Bitsevsky forest, the second largest natural park in the capital. The Moscow authorities are planning a "comprehensive improvement" here. What are you going to improve in the forest, and most importantly why? Neither the public nor the deputies were honored with the answer to this question.

Residents fear the incursion of the developer.

Julia Suntsova

Photo:vk.com

In October 2020 the Moscow government has changed the regulation on the specially protected natural area "Bitsevsky Les" ("Bitsevsky forest"). The new version of the document opens loopholes for capital construction on its territory.

"By making changes to the regulations on protected areas, the Moscow government essentially leaves the entire forest with the status of a specially protected natural area only formally, while lowering the protection levels for certain functional zones. Those that were reserved, now are not, the walking areas were divided into three levels according to the degree of protection - and now everything is possible there. The project "for the development of natural territory" itself is a complete substitution of concepts. What does the development of a natural area mean? This is the preservation of the Red Book animals and plants, the preservation of the landscape, but in no way the construction of paths and lanterns, and in no way the transformation of a wild forest into amusement parks and boulevards", - says a resident of Yasenevo and Nagorny, doctor Alexander Martynov-Radushinsky.

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The conceived "comprehensive improvement" of Bitsevsky Forest 2021-2023 is associated with the construction of multi-storey blocks under the Moscow renovation program. Houses for migrants are adjacent to the forest, which theoretically allows the interested parties to launch, allegedly in the interests of these residents, a multi-walkway, where the next step will be to remove a special status from the forest and turn it into an ordinary city park.

August 10, 2020 the customer GAU "MoszhilNIIproekt", subordinate to the Department of Overhaul of the city of Moscow (DKR) in two lots with a total value of 91 792 139.60 rubles. raffled off purchases № 32009392591 and № 32009392592 for work in the Bitsevsky forest.

The title of the work is formulated so intricately that it is absolutely impossible to isolate the very essence of the work from it: "Performing work on the planning organization of urban areas with the analysis of initial data and identifying the problems of the existing state" (Lot 1, Lot 2). The name of the calculations in the estimate does not make the situation easier: "Pre-design study", Strategy for the development of the territory of the natural-historical park "Bitsevsky Les", "Development of the improvement concept and support of the first stage of implementation", "Development of a booklet with 3D visualization".

The allotted time for work is 61 + 92 + 213 calendar days from the date of signing the contract (for both contracts).

However, the terms of reference directly stipulate that the customers of state contracts refer to their "main goals and objectives" as "the development of the general plan [ie change of the current general plan] and schemes for each territory”.

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According to some "Territory Development Strategy" mentioned in the tender documentation, the design boundaries only in the first stage of work can affect up to 100 hectares.

Among other things, the customer requires from the contractor "the location of points of attraction and functional zones" around the design sites, "vision of an architectural image", "transport solutions / route schemes", "a scheme of engineering infrastructure elements", "specification of elements and materials", "visualization of design solutions". And, as they say, any hedgehog in Bitsevsky Forest understands that when officials vaguely order some kind of architecture, traffic patterns, engineering infrastructure and a list of materials, it is clearly about something more than just caring for the forest area.

Activists, the public believe that the appearance of loggers and construction sites in Bitsa is now only a matter of time. Heavy machinery is already working in the forest. Since the beginning of December, teams of builders have been laying new asphalt paths, installing curbs and storm water.

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Almost 7 thousand people have subscribed to the petition "Let's Save the Bitsevsky Forest" on the podpishi.org/bitsa platform.

“Specially Protected Natural Territory Natural and Historical Park “Bitsevsky Forest” is a natural air conditioner and air filter for all of Moscow! Our forest has been attacked by the Department of Capital Repair. We will not allow work that will lead to a sharp deterioration in the environmental situation. There is no need to "improve nature"", - says the petition filed to the mayor of the capital, Sergey Sobyanin.

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In parallel, live signatures are being collected. Members of the initiative group and municipal deputies walk around the apartments, are on duty with signature lists at the metro and in the Bitsevsky forest itself.

- I collected 49 signatures at Prazhskaya in 1.5 hours. There are almost no people who would not be interested in the fate of the forest, who would not be worried and would not express their sharp "no". After that, I will not believe in any polls from the mayor's office that residents of Chertanovo dream of improving the forest. Online signatures, social media coverage and YouTube coverage are important. But such work does not cover all people. Most residents remain unaware of what is happening with Bittsa, they do not enter the district groups. The opportunity to reach them is to communicate in person and hand over a leaflet, - said Roman Yuneman, a resident of Chertanovo, head of the public movement Society.Future.

What is known about the contractor of multimillion-dollar contracts for the "improvement" of Bitsevsky Park?

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The contract for the first lot No. 59710075487200007390000 "was concluded on September 14 with the only participant in the electronic tender - Atlas LLC.

Only one contender also took part in the drawing of the second lot - the same Atlas, the purchase was declared invalid. It is not clear from the tender documentation whether the second state contract was concluded with this contractor. The latest news on this purchase is dated August 27, when it was transferred from the Commission's Work stage to the Placement Completed stage.

Photo:vk.com

A company with a 10,000th capital of Atlas LLC was registered exactly one year before the competition (08/19/2019), at the Luzhniki Olympic Complex. The main activity - "71.11 Activities in the field of architecture". The general director and 100% founder of Atlas, Alexander Sytnikov, is the full namesake of the ex-head of the Moscow General Planning Department of the Moskomarkhitektura, a member of the City Planning Council of the Skolkovo Foundation, partner of KB Strelka. Strelka is called the “master” of the most ambitious improvement projects in recent years, such as the concept of the Zaryadye park, the My Street program, etc.

The nuance is that the protection, maintenance and use of the SPNA PIP "Bitsevsky Les", its future development, including recreation and improvement, have already been entrusted by the Moscow Government to the State Environmental Budgetary Institution Mospriroda, which is a subordinate organization of the Department of Nature Management and Environmental Protection of the city of Moscow (DPiOOS). Appropriate budgets have been allocated for this. Why it was necessary to duplicate the state assignments for the care of the natural and historical park "Bitsevsky Les" in two apartments of the Moscow mayor's office - one can only guess.

- Moreover, the Department of Overhaul has no grounds to perform the functions of a city customer for landscaping and recreational work, as well as pre-design, design and research work aimed at justifying development, ensuring safety and rational use. The organization and conclusion of a contract for the performance of these works in the Specially Protected Natural Area Natural and Historical Park "Bitsevsky Forest" can be carried out only by a specialized, authorized and competent agency in environmental matters - the Department of Nature Management and Environmental Protection, State Budgetary Institution "Mospriroda" or the Directorate of Protected Areas PIP "Bitsevsky Les", for example. The intervention of non-core organizations that do not have the necessary competence and experience can lead to an irreparable deterioration of the ecology of the entire region, - comment the lawyers of the initiative group "Save the Bitsevsky Forest".

The Moscow authorities, however, have already allocated 4.4 billion rubles to the Department of Overhaul for "organizing leisure and recreation of the population in specially protected natural areas in the city of Moscow . " It is not yet known how exactly these 4.4 billion will be distributed between different urban PAs and what specific purposes they will be used for.

- Here is such a suspicious "leisure" for billions of rubles. Without details. Anything can be shoved under the guise of such "leisure" for the "protection and development of the green fund". There were precedents. The department assigned to the budget line is the Department of Overhaul: a unit that, according to the law, has no right to operate in specially protected natural areas, comments Roman Yuneman.

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The activist formulated and voiced 5 requirements for the protection of Bitsevsky Forest at a gathering with residents:

  1. Stop the development of the Bitsevsky forest development strategy.
  2. Cancel the decree of the Moscow government on the new position of our PAs.
  3. To prohibit the Department of Major Repairs to be engaged in landscaping on the territory of protected areas (amend the regulations on the department).
  4. Remove the Department of Natural Resources from Biryukov's jurisdiction and subordinate directly to the mayor of Moscow.
  5. Conduct an official investigation and punish those responsible for the development of an illegal provision.

Even the laying of seemingly harmless lamp posts will lead to the fact that birds and animals will not be able to sleep under this light and will leave the territory. Thus, the unique ecosystem of the forest and the entire south of Moscow is being destroyed, which in turn will allow the authorities to declare without any problems that Bitsa is no longer a specially protected natural area, because there are no Red Book breeds, which means that you can do and build everything that wish. But the most important question is why spend billions of budget money on a project unnecessary for Muscovites, the defenders of the forest argue.

"The very expression “forest development strategy” sounds inadequate, because the forest develops without human help, people can only protect it. Biologists, for example, are even against feeding trees, since this is already an intervention in the ecosystem. In the terms of reference, the customer prescribes the task - to find out public opinion on the improvement of the Bitsevsky forest. Naturally, as a deputy, the question immediately arises for me: by what such incomprehensible methods do you collect the opinion of the townspeople at all, if our Council has not received any information from you so far?", - says the municipal deputy of the Konkovo district Olga Prudlik.

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"Some incomprehensible google-forms on the links. How is it filled in, and most importantly - by whom? The contractor's representatives cannot even explain where this gathering of public opinion is held. Something incomprehensible is passed off as a sociological survey of residents - there is no sample or representation there. The very statement of the question is a choice without choice. Atlas doesn't even have such a question - do we need to improve the forest at all or not? Straight ahead - what to build? On November 12, residents were summoned to a “tricky gathering” - it turns out that this is a gathering of public opinion. They lead through the forest and show: and here the bridge has broken down, won't we repair it? Then they pass it off as a survey. Residents immediately sensed a catch and did not go for a walk with the Atlas. The representative of the bureau was not even allowed to finish his speech, was interrupted by indignant remarks: "The residents have no request for improvement!", "On what basis were you given such an assignment?", "You shouldn't make us happy with your help!" In short, they made it clear that nothing needs to be done in the forest. No sports grounds, no paths, no improvement, just leave the forest alone", - says Alexander Martynov-Radushinsky.

The activists say that information about what exactly the landscaping curators are planning to do with the Bitsevsky forest has to be collected bit by bit, according to "circumstantial evidence".

At a recent meeting of the budget commission, Moscow City Duma deputy Lyubov Nikitina, representing the Nagorny, Severnoye Chertanovo and part of Zyuzino, asked a representative of the Overhaul Department about plans for Bitsevsky forest. The answer was unexpected even for her: design is planned for the whole of 2021, and construction is planned for 2022-2023. To understand what this very arrangement means, Nikitina had to write many requests to the authorities, the answers to which she is still waiting for.

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"In the brochure on the project for the renovation of the Konkovo district, on page 7, it is written that additional improvements are planned on the territory of the Bitsevsky forest: a pathway network for walking, equipment of recreation areas. At public hearings, people were seduced by the same forest improvement. In a schematic illustration showing how it will all be - a huge sports basketball court bursts into the forest with its appendix, which definitely means a huge concrete surface and artificial rubber on it, the platform itself is fenced with a netting. People in the background, that is, in the middle of the forest, walk and eat ice cream. But in the forest there are no stationary shopping facilities today, and there were not even official public hearings about such, but apparently they already exist in someone's head", - adds the deputy Olga Prudlik.

The movement "Let's Save Bitsevsky Forest" today has about 400 activists, 200 of whom actively go home and collect signatures of residents. More than 8000 signatories include residents of Chertanovo, Yasenevo, Konkovo, Zyuzino, Belyaevo, Butovo and others, biologists, cyclists, skiers, orienteers, representatives of pagan associations, who have been using the temple on Lysaya Gora for more than ten years. 35 municipal deputies from 19 districts of the capital joined the struggle to preserve this natural and historical park in its original form.

Citizens, among other things, ask themselves the question - how reasonable is it in a pandemic, in the conditions of the projected deficit budget for the next year, to spend almost a hundred million rubles only on design work for the alleged "improvement" of one of the capital's parks?

“As we know from open sources, the projected budget deficit of Moscow for 2021 is 510 billion rubles. The initiative of the Department of Overhaul on the improvement of Bitsevsky forest in 2021–2023. not only contradicts the goals and objectives of environmental protection, but also inappropriate during a period of budget deficit, a pandemic and the need to increase budget spending on medicine, financial support of citizens. Against the background of the current economic and social situation, this initiative is causing irreparable reputational damage both to Moscow Mayor Sobyanin personally and to the entire Moscow Government”, - the initiative group commented.

On December 12, the defenders of Bitsevsky Forest gathered to record a video message for the annual press conference of Vladimir Putin. They were preparing to express disagreement with the decision of the Moscow authorities to "improve" the Bitsevsky forest. However, the police officers who immediately arrived at the grooves banned the recording of a video message, threatening them with sanctions for an unauthorized public event. The same fate befell the athletes at the end of last week, who decided to hold competitions under the slogan of protecting the Bitsevsky forest...

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