The small village of Zehra, which lies between Poprad and Presov in the east of the country, is drawing attention to itself as the local elected councillors of this predominantly Roma-inhabited municipality, have given the thumbs up to free electricity to the Roma settlement there called Drevenik.
According to an article from daily SME yesterday, many of the councillors voting in favour of the move also come from the settlement, but the conflict of interests has infuriated other taxpayers in Zehra who will have to foot the bill to provide free power to the settlement residents.
A local civic association called Nova Zehra (literally New Zehra), which is also campaigning for the separation of the town from the settlement, did not take the news well, with association head Milos Pacovsky underlining how they were being discriminated against by a minority, which will live off the communal budget.
The idea of free electricity was put forward by energy distributor Vychodoslovenska Distribucna, but it was only supposed to relate to a complex of 24 new council flats that had been built and handed over to the Roma inhabitants of the settlement. The councillors eventually expanded on this idea and so now the whole settlement of over 110 dwellings will enjoy free electricity.
Roma residents also have huge rent arrears of over EUR 140,000, which are proving almost impossible to collect. “How long will society put up with these kinds of practices?” Pacovsky appealed.