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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

TAV or NO TAV: 30 Years of Conflict, and Counting

NO-TAV Leftist Wall Art, Pigneto
TAV--Treno Alta Velocita'--refers generally to high speed rail corridors, but more specifically to a planned high-speed, 170 mile rail line between Turin, Italy, and Lyon, France.  The project has been a contentious one from the first days of planning, in 1990. Recently, a parliamentary vote split the governing coalition, with Matteo Salvini's northern-industrial based Lega party in favor, and Luigi Di Maio's 5-Star Movement, with its anti-government ideology, opposed. In a non-binding vote, TAV was approved. Some of the tunneling had already been done. In the poster below, opponents suggest that the project will produce environmental devastation, strikes, and evictions. Probably all true.

Italian proponents of the new line, most of them in the country's industrial north, argue that the TAV to Lyon will increase trade; that the travel time by train from Turin to Paris connection will be roughly equivalent to air travel; that truck pollution would be significantly reduced--and, anyway, the EU has agreed to pay for about 40% of the cost, and maybe more.

Opponents, aligned under the NO TAV movement, are especially numerous in the many small towns that would line the non-tunnel portions of the track, and especially in Italy's Susa Valley. Because much of the work would involve tunneling through the Alps (one tunnel alone would be 36 miles long), in areas where the rock may contain asbestos, opponents also raise environmental and health concerns. Others are concerned about the inevitable cost over-runs and the corruption that typically attends large infrastructure projects in Italy. And there's doubtless a small-town, rural concern with quality-of-life issues (proponents would call it NIMBY-ism).

NO TAV emerged with the first planning, in the early 1990s. Opposition intensified after 2000, with demonstrations, squatting, trade union actions, and flash mobs, all of it linked, if superficially, with the Partisan opposition to the Nazis in the last years of World War II.

The fire burns. No Tav. 

The Italian part of the project was officially approved in 2011, though not much work has been done on the line since then, and opposition continues. Beppe Grillo, the 5-Star co-founder, has described the project as "a crime against humanity."

In back of the old slaughter house, in Testaccio. Mourning animals, the train driven by death. 
Although most of the hostility to the high-speed line has centered in the rural and small-town north, the issue appeared on Rome's walls as early as 2012 (when RST first began photographing evidence of opposition. TAV continues to be an issue in Rome, though perhaps an increasingly minor one--especially compared with immigration.


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