Bursa.ro-The Danube Delta - the thorny issue of private buildings erected on the state"s property

The Danube Delta - the thorny issue of private buildings erected on the state"s property

The Danube Delta is not just a natural paradise, but also hell for those who built their homes built on land for which they do not hold the ownership rights.

Right in the heart of the Delta, in the communes of Maliuc, Crişan and Pardina, which are renowned for their picturesque landscape, a few dozens of hectares in the public domain of the state currently have hundreds of privately owned buildings sitting on them.

Even though it seems hard to believe, for over twenty years, the legal issue of the plots of land of the state in the county of Tulcea remained unsolved and is now a source of trouble for the local administration and the inhabitants of the region alike.

How it came to this

The Maliuc, Crişan and Pardina communes were hit by floods in 1970 and 1974.

At the time, the authorities decided the emergency relocation of the flood victims and to build six platforms protected by dams within the administrative perimeter of the communes affected by the floods and in the villages that were part of the communes: Maliuc, Gorgova, Crişan, Mila 23 and Pardina (two platforms).

After being built on higher ground, with earthworks that protected them against future floods, the administration of the platforms went to the Office for the Management of Water Resources of Tulcea.

Since 1980, based on the decisions of the administration of Tulcea, the platforms were divided into plots, which were then given to the locals for the construction of new homes.

Since the inhabitants were in a desperate situation, the operation was a success, with many individuals and legal entities erecting civilian buildings atop the allocated plots.

The people had no way of knowing that they would get in trouble later because at the time there was no legislation regulating the right of ownership of the land (as the platforms were the property of the state).

After the revolution, the platforms that the inhabitants built their homes remained the property of the state (in the public domain), but their management became the responsibility of the National Administration "Romanian Water Resources" (ANAR).

The homes of the inhabitants of Tulcea are built on the plots of land of the state

The inhabitants of the Delta have thus became the owners of their homes, which they unavoidably use every day, but not of the land underneath.

Lawyer Zeno Sustac, who is an expert in commercial law, an arbiter of the International Court of Arbitration, explained: "It is an extremely problematic situation for those who had their homes sitting on the lands which were in the public domain of the state for decades. This matter should have been solved a long time ago, since the legal status of their properties is overall uncertain.

The inhabitants of Tulcea that are faced with this issue, can sell, rent or leave their homes as inheritance if they so wish, but not the land underneath, for which they have no right of ownership. Since the plots of land in question are part of the public domain, they may not be seized or alienated, according to the Constitution. However, if a person decides to sell its home and finds a buyer willing to only buy the property without the land underneath - which would be hard to believe -then it will get a price which is far lower than the one it would get as part of a regular transaction".

Is this an artificially maintained problem?

There are voices that claim that some of the people in the public sector, attracted by the potential of the Delta, are more than happy with the uncertainty of the legal status of the lands in question, thus speculating the niche that was created, including for their own personal gain.

What other explanation is there for the fact that in twenty years, none of the governments was able to find the time to fix the issue (ed. note: by which to transfer the land from the public domain to the state"s private domain, and then transfer their ownership to the local councils, in order to give ownership of the plots to the inhabitants using one of the available procedures (concession, rental, retrocession, sale etc.)

It is also interesting how, in the commune of Crişan, on one of the platforms erected as a refuge for the victims of the floods, among the villas recently built there, lies a camp site.

The former president of the County Council of Tulcea, PSD senator Trifon Belacurencu, admits it outright: "The authorities are to blame for the fact that this issue was not solved, both for < subjective > and < objective > reasons. If there are villas built on these platforms of the < National Administration "Romanian Water Resources" (ANAR) >, then their owners don"t have their deeds of ownership in order and will have to bear the consequences of the law".

The senator said that in the previous years, there have been some attempts to solve the issue, but they all failed. A draft bill intended to solve this case was repealed by the Ministry of Justice.
Cătălin Deacu ( Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
14.03.2011

A new legislative draft

PSD senator, Trifon Belacurencu, said that he has submitted a draft law which stipulates the transfer of the ownership of the platforms in the communes of Pardina, Maliuc şi Crişan, from the public domain to the private domain and to transfer their administration from the ANAR to the local councils of the communes in question.

The transfer is necessary to give the plots of land to the current owners of the buildings, as well as to those who received plots of land on which to build their homes through concession or other legal means,.

The draft law has been passed by the Senate and is currently under discussion in the Chamber of Deputies, which is the deciding chamber.

David Csaba, ANAR: "We never opposed the transfer of the ownership of the platforms"

Contacted by BURSA, the managing director of ANAR, David Csaba, said: "ANAR never opposed the transfer of these platforms from the state"s public domain to the patrimony of the counties. These platforms must be taken over by the authorities in the area, which also have to take over the property of the land. Also, the authorities in the area need to be the ones to initiate the legislative measures for taking over the property of their platforms".

The managing board of the ANAR has already approved the transfer of four of the six platforms (ed. note: one in the commune of Maliuc, one at Mila 23 of the Crişan commune and two more in the Pardina commune). ANAR wanted the two other areas to be kept as a protection area, since they were built to provide protection against floods.

Zeno Sustac: "Watch out for the vesting of possession process!"

Lawyer Zeno Sustac also considers that the best solution would be to transfer the platforms, through a government decision, to the private domain of the local townships, but says that it is extremely important that the record of the vesting of possession be performed correctly.

Zeno Sustac explained: "Be very careful! There is the possibility that, once the land is reintroduced in the civil circuit, there may be retrocession requests from people that will claim those plots of land were seized from them by the communist regime. I know, that given the issues that already exist, it sounds like a scenario that is beyond belief, but anything is possible!".

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Zeno Daniel Sustac 2012