- June 27, 2017
Polish specialists will also take part in the rescuing of Gediminas’ Mountain
“Polish specialists propose and promise to conduct research on Gediminas’ Mountain using four different methods. The geophysical research has not been carried out in Lithuania in such a comprehensive way so far,“ emphasised Arminas Šileikis, the spokesman for the National Museum of Lithuania, when talking to Kurier Wileński.
Due to the appalling condition of Gediminas’ Mountain, the government is going to declare a state of emergency. The works have already begun on the north-western slope of the mountain, where the largest landslides have been recorded.
The delegation from Poland visited Lithuania last week. During the visit, the specialists from the National Geological Institute – National Research Institute with the director Doctor Sławomir Mazurkiewicz examined the Giediminas’ Mountain, acquainted themselves with the conclusions from the research conducted by their Lithuanian colleagues and with the project of repairing north-western slope of the mountain. After familiarising themselves with the current situation, geologists, hydrogeologists, geotechnicians and geophysicists from Poland will present their findings and proposals on the plan to rescue the mountain. Their opinions concerning the south-eastern slope are going to be presented and made public within three weeks. The Lithuanian and Polish specialists are going to present the joint conclusions on the condition of the mountain by the 26th of July.
“The specialists from Poland were invited maybe not too late, but in good time. Polish geophysical research will positively contribute to the project of repairing the square and stabilizing the slopes of Giediminas’ Mountain. The Polish specialists will examine the mountain using various geophysical methods such as electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), seismic refraction tomography (SRT), the conductivity method (GCM) and ground-penetrating radar (GPR), ” said Arminas Šileikis.
The purpose of such comprehensive research is also determining the size of the slope’s deformation and the depth of cracks, as well as tracking the tunnels dug during the war and other underground areas.
According to Arminas Šileikis, the specialists from Poland will work on the remaining part of Giediminas’ Mountain because the project for saving the north-western slope, which is the most susceptible for damages, has already been prepared and the preparatory work has already begun there. The company “Rekreacinė statyba”, which signed a contract for carrying out the works with National Museum of Lithuania, will perform them for 2,860,000 euro. At present, the preparations to carry out the works are underway.
“Preparatory work on the north-western slope has already begun this week: the square down the slope is being cleaned, the equipment necessary for repairs is being collected. I think that soon, after a week or two, people will be able to see that the edge of the mountain is under repair. The square, the most problematic place, where the water from the slopes flows down, should be cleaned as soon as possible. However, it is difficult to give precise information now, ” said Arminas Šileikis.
On the 1st of September, the architects and the project manager are to present the concept of rescuing the south-eastern slope of the Castle Hill together with the square to the National Museum of Lithuania. Then a tender for carrying out the work will be announced.
As Arminas Šileikis explained, the main threat to Gediminas’ Mountain is water, which falls on the top of the mountain with rainfall. Then it sinks into the ground on the square on Gediminas’ Mountain and when meeting the impervious layers of soil, it starts to flow in the form of springs on the slopes of the mountain. This problem has been noticed by the Lithuanian specialists before and was named by the Polish specialists after familiarising themselves with the situation.
Another problem is that in the place where the slope is damaged most, it is covered with the loose ground. Before 2000-2005 the slope of the Gediminas’ Mountain was covered with a small amount of poor quality soil that did not “cling” to the natural substratum. It is this loose soil that causes landslides on the surface of the mountain now.
The eastern and south-eastern slopes of Giediminas’ Mountain is not stable too. Experts have pointed out that the south-eastern slope, where the remains of the Upper Castle stand, are under threat; there is quite a fresh one centimetre crack in the wall which appeared just in one month.
“The crack appeared in a very short time – one centimetre in a month is a lot. Specialists say that it is necessary to take care of this fragment and check what is happening with the mountain here. The Polish specialists have the same opinion,” Arminas Šileikis said.
The government is going to declare an emergency situation because of the condition of Gediminas’ Mountain, informed Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis. “Probably, we will have to declare an emergency situation for this reason alone to find additional sources of funding, ” he told reporters in a government office on Monday, June 26. He stressed that the threat to the mountain is huge, that is why a comprehensive strategy is going to be developed.
According to the Prime Minister, additional funding would be granted later this year. Last week, Saulius Skvernelis said that almost 5 billion euro is necessary for rescuing the mountain, accurate figures would be given after making the investment project. Declaring an emergency situation would allow for allocating money from a special fund.
“If this is done, it can be assumed that Gediminas’ Mountain will be comprehensively put in order and that the callings that all the mountain, not only its particular wounds, should be healed will be heard. Scientists have been talking about this for a long time, but there were no funds to do that. Now, as the talks about it have started, it seems that there is hope. Last year, the National Museum of Lithuania did all what it could do and spent 300,000 euro on research on problems with soil and slope’s stability,”said Arminas Šileikis.
It is possible that the sightseeing on the Giediminas’ Mountain may also be restricted. A Deputy Minister of Culture Renaldas Augustinavičius says that it is unlikely that it will be possible to combine tours on the mountain and this extraordinary situation.
“We should assess the situation – where there is real danger (…). The situation of the western tower is quite stable, so it would be possible to direct the visitors there and to limit the sightseeing of the southern part. This is not very complicated,” he explains.
“For now, one can go to Gediminas’ Mountain by the old path from the side of the Vilnia River. It was closed to visitors for a long time, but since it is the safest path, it has been made available to tourists. Unfortunately, it will not be possible for them to use the lift, as it was decided to switch it off for now because of the ongoing works. However, if an emergency situation is declared because of the condition of Giediminas’ Mountain, then after taking into account the results of the research, which we will receive in about 3 weeks, it will be decided whether to close the whole mountain or only a part of it,” says Arminas Šileikis.
The north-western slope, where the works have already begun, is expected to be braced by the end of this year. It was planned to build a system for collecting the rainfall on the top of the mountain, stabilize and drain the damaged slope, reconstruct the original slope with vegetation and transport the rainfall gathering on the top of the Giediminas’ Mountain and on the north-western slope to the urban rainwater network.
Translated by Magdalena Bobryk within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.