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An important Scientific Conference at Polytechnic University of Turin
The Italian Government is obliged to take part in the important discussion

An overall project for the Turin-Lyon railway line does not exist”, the promoters of the Scientific Conference taking place tomorrow April 26th, at Turin’s Polytechnic Institute affirm 1.

Over the years, working groups made up of technical experts appointed by the Comunità Montana of Susa and Sangone Valleys (CMVSS) and by environmental associations have produced hundred of pages of observations within the processes of Environmental Impact Assessments.

In February 2012, a group of more than 360 technical experts and academics sent an Appeal to Prime Minister Mario Monti, asking him to rethink the Turin – Lyon project 2.

According to the organizers, the conference’s scope is to examine the technical solidity of the arguments supporting the construction of a new railway line in addition to the one already in operation between Turin and Lyon, as well as critical issues, applying scientific methods based on objective data and verifiable evaluations.

The Italian Government, in a document published on its official website 3 on March 9, 2012, in answering 14 questions it had formulated beforehand, gave its reasons for the construction of the new High-Speed/Capacity Turin-Lyon railway line.

A critical reading of the contents of the government document was carried out by a group of technical experts and professors in various fields, most of them members of the CMVSS’s “Turin-Lyon” Technical Committee.

In order to understand better this new phase in the discussion about the Turin-Lyon, we posed some questions to Luca Giunti, a member of the CMVSS’s Technical Committee.

Presidio Europa - The Government preferred not to give a direct answer to the Appeal signed by more than 360 technical experts and academics, disregarding the rules outlined in the Århus Convention (1998) which Italy was one of the first countries in the world to ratify in 2001 4. The CMVSS’s group of technical experts, of which you are a part, elaborated a set of observations 5, and now the Government has promptly responded. Don’t you think that this exchange is a success for the project’s opponents, who were able to provoke the Government to reply to the arguments they had presented?

Luca Giunti – As far as I remember, it is the first time the proponents have accepted a comparison with objective data. Let’s hope this will be the beginning of a fresh start for an accurate examination from all sides of the Turin-Lyon project. It is true that the answers are not exhaustive, that often they are not supported by appropriate scientific documents and, above all, that they are not signed off (unlike our observations where the authors personally signed with their full names and qualifications). But we can consider it a first step, an act of good will. We’ll see if they will continue along this path. The first opportunity might be tomorrow’s conference at the Polytechnic Institute. We hope they will attend and join the discussion.

Presidio EuropaBriefly, which are the main arguments that might upset the future of this project, which has been labelled by the No TAV Movement as one of the Large Unnecessary Projects that will increase Italian public debt?Luca Giunti – The objections are always the same: the Turin-Lyon railway is useless, very expensive, imposed without involving the population in it and devastating for the environment. Probably it will come to nothing in the end because of the second reason; we will not have the funds to support it, but the reasons are always valid and have never been refuted. Presidio EuropaDo you think that in the next weeks we might expect to see a change of opinion on the part of political decision-makers? Or will the Turin-Lyon continue over the next 20 years to be a training ground in which the main political parties, all in agreement on the project without knowing the data yet strongly interested in reaping the benefits, will continue to practice the decades-long art of silencing the citizens who want to make themselves heard? Luca Giunti – Undoubtedly the Turin-Lyon has taken on a different meaning, it goes beyond the mere opposition to a railway that is wrong and a project that is old. It has to do with the future that we imagine for ourselves, the ways of consuming energy, water and land, the world we dream of, the debts we leave for future generations. These are ideas that have been developed over many years in Susa Valley – and not only here – by listening to great contemporary thinkers, who are not Monti, Passera and Fornero, but Vandana Shiva, Serge Latouche, Georgescu-Roegen and many more, on down to Mercalli and Petrini, on the one hand and Don Ciotti and Don Gallo on the other. This is why the opposition to the Turin-Lyon is destabilizing and uncomfortable, it poses a threat to the status quo and the dominant way of thinking. That’s why it must be suppressed even with manu militari. This is why the opponents of the project will win in the end, as all new and progressive ideas do

1 Scientific Conference at Turin's Polytechnic Institute - April 26, 2012 http://areeweb.polito.it/eventi/TAVSalute/
2 Appeal to Italian Prime Minister by 360 academics http://www.notav.eu/modules.php?name=ePetitions&op=more_info&ePetitionId=3
3 Italian Gouvernent web site http://www.governo.it/GovernoInforma/Dossier/TAV/domande_risposte.pdf
4 http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/pp/documents/cep43ital.pdf-http://www.minambiente.it/SVS/aarhus/convenzione/convenzione.htm
5 Observation Regarding the Italian Government’s document “TAV Turin-Lyon - Questions and Answers” : www.presidioeuropa.net/docs/observationsMar2012EN.pdf - http://www.cmvss.it/item.asp?i=873&stile=0