As we have previously informed you, the people of Pungesti have collected more than 1000 signatures to make the mayor resign (out of a population of 3000 people). After a harsh process of checking the signatures, with the citizens from the list being asked to drop by the police (which is in the main village of the municipality of Pungesti, consisting of 9 villages, spread across more kilometers, thus making this very difficult and time-consuming), the County Government (The Prefectura) decided yesterday that the action of the citizens of Pungesti has no legal ground. The Pungesti inhabitants have maintained that the mayor did not represent their interests and will because he did not inform them about fracking and shale gas and also because he has leased his land to Chevron for the exploitation of shale gas (a very murky business, with a file still not opened by the Departement for Fighting Corruption, despite the collection of all the incriminating evidences). He was also accused of unsuitable attitude towards the citizens of Pungesti (he mocked the citizens of Pungesti and defied them, even beating a 12 years old boy on the Christmas day). The County Government, a institution run by one of the biggest Chevron lobby-ist, who has told in a press conference that “the villagers should drink vodka, if their water gets contaminated” and was always very aggressively silencing whatever voices speaking out against Chevron’s project, decided to refuse to recognise any type of civil rights to the people of Pungesti. The Prefecture has stated that it cannot be proved that the mayor did not pursue the interests of the citizens, as he was the one who initiated a project to ban fracking earlier in 2013, which was later on withdrew by the local council of Pungesti, as was attacked by same institution. The Prefect institution has challenged all the other decisions of local councils, around 20 of them, in the last months. Most of them were declared illegal by means of rulings of the court in Vaslui – it is the case of 10 municipalities of Vaslui. The explanation was that the State, therefore the Government decides regarding the natural resources, not the local community. Yet since december 2013, 4 communities in a row have gotten a different decision in court, stating that shale gas, since it is not listed among the resources owned by the state, (the central Government) in the Oil Law, governing the shale gas contracts, belong to the local communities, who therefore have the right to decide whether they will exploit them or not. The County Council has appealed these decisions in court and we are now expecting the decisions. We are well aware of the huge pressure on the judges in these cases, as a final decision favouring the local communities would imply, more or less, opening the door for basically all the communities in Romania to ask for a ban in their communities, given the fierce opposition of the Romanians towards fracking and unconventional fuel development.
With this undemocratic decision, the Prefecture is taking away the right of the citizens of Pungesti to hold a referendum and decide whether the mayor is still representing their interests or not. This situation is totally undemocratic and it goes against all civil rights of the Pungesti inhabitants. It is a very dangerous case that paves the way for the central government, represented by the Prefecture, to decide against the will of the citiznes who decide that mayors no longer represent their interests.
We are calling all the European institutions to take action of this totally undemocratic decision of the County Government of the county of Vaslui.