Over the past few days since February 23, several large-scale breakages of central heating main have occurred in different areas of Kharkiv.
The substantial damage of pipelines has led to the shutdown of more than 600 residential buildings, schools, student dormitories, Universities, and hospitals.
Taking into account the air temperature has fallen to – 17 C these days, the accident turned into real icy collapse in residential areas.
The central heating system breakages happened in turns – while the maintenance crews came to fix the leaking pipes in one emergency spot, the nearby pipes also collapsed. This is the first time Kharkiv experienced really cold weather this winter. However, city pipelines appeared not to have been ready for it despite the cheerful reports of the municipal council officials stating “the heating main had been properly prepared for the cold season.”
Volunteer and city council deputy Ihor Chernyak, who is opposing the city mayor office, explains the Kharkiv pipeline disaster with neglect of utility systems need for renewal by local authorities. According to Chernyak, the wear and tear of Kharkiv central heating system is over 75 percent and the city council deputies led by Mayor Hennady Kernes prefer to allocate money for the “show off projects” rather than for less visible routine repairs.
“They rule the city as if it is their last day. The team of the Kharkiv mayor is not interested in complex long-term and time-consuming projects. Nothing is exciting in funding a hospital renovation! They get much better publicity by installing flower beds and benches, or new amazing theme rides in the park,” Chernyak claims.
The numbers are quite telling. Only 3.568 million UAH (approximately $132 thousand) out of local budget are allocated for reconstruction of the 1,632 km long central heating system, while it costs 1.9 billion UAH (over $70.4 million) to renovate Kharkiv Zoo.
“Just compare – remodeling of one toilet in Gorky Park costs 5.6 million UAH ($207 thousand) – and 3.5 mln UAH are spared for the whole central heating main! These figures are worth a thousand words,” says Chernyak.
“The monkeys are more valuable than people!” says the title of the report by Kharkiv TV news agency meaning the contrast between financing sumptuous Zoo and dilapidating Kharkiv sustenance systems.
Currently, the mayor and heads of the corresponding departments keep silent about the scale of the disaster and do not comment on the catastrophe and their responsibility.
Samopomich party is going to bring up the issue of the appalling state of pipelines and absence of the integrated strategy of the Kharkiv development at the immediate special session of the city council.
Text: Olena Sokolynska
Photo: Ihor Chernyak