Catalonia was the only autonomous community affected by a large fire in 2019 that rejected the help of the Ministry of Agriculture to restore the affected areas. The regional administration preferred to carry out tasks such as the restoration of forest cover to avoid erosion with its own means, disregarding – the autonomous government ensures that in order to gain effectiveness – state aid. In the midst of a heat surge and exceptional weather conditions, the fire in Tarragona swept away in a few days – the fire began on June 26 – up to 5,000 hectares of the Ribera d’Ebre region.
In its annual balance, the General Directorate of Rural Development, Innovation and Agrifood Training (Dgdrifa) of the Ministry of Agribusiness explains that last year 10.45 million euros were allocated to emergency fire actions in all CC.AA who requested it, basically interventions to restore infrastructure for general use and rural roads. According to this report, advanced by Efe, all the CC.AA affected by fires last year took advantage of these grants except Catalonia.
Only three days had elapsed since the fire in Tarragona was extinguished when the General Director of Rural Development of the Ministry, Isabel Bombal, sent a letter to the General Directorate of Forest Ecosystems and Environment Management of the Department of Agriculture of the Generalitat moving the “dismay at the effects of the fire” and inviting the administration to request available state aid. Despite this offer, and the invitation to respond quickly so as not to exceed the deadlines, the Generalitat did not respond.
Catalan government sources consulted by ABC confirmed that, in effect, it was not considered to accept the offer for a question of “operability”, since the aid did not consist of a direct economic contribution, but rather the intervention on the ground of the state public company Swallow The Generalitat preferred to do so through Forestal Catalana, ensuring that in this way, and for “logistical issues”, the land recovery work was coordinated with other interventions planned after the fire.
In this regard, and in addition to a game of 6.4 million in advantageous loans and 3.9 in infrastructure and interventions such as firewalls, the Generalitat spent another 2.2 million in land restoration and works against erosion in Tarragona, an amount that could have been saved if these tasks had been carried out by the Ministry, as offered. .