Does this spell the end for Latvia's earth latrines?

Earth latrines - commonly referred to as 'granny's little heart house' - are still ubiquitous in Latvia. Now the Latvian Ministry of the Environment and Regional Development is requiring them all to be registered and connected to the mains sewage system. Otherwise the owners will have to pay a fine. Latvia's journalists find this outrageous.

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Neatkarīgā (LV) /

Absurd bureaucratic harassment

That’s like taking a potshot at the poor, Neatkarīgā believes:

“Does the plan to set up regulations for dry toilets come from Brussels? Is it driven by concern for the environment? Or do the parties want to monitor society more closely? ... The dry toilets are not ecological frills, but a real sign of a lack of affluence. An old woman living in the countryside in a house with a market value of about 5,000 euros that no-one wants to buy now has to finance a major refurbishment to satisfy the WC requirements of the bureaucrats in Riga. But that will cost her thousands of euros and she'll have trouble finding someone who will give her a loan.”

Diena (LV) /

Churning out pointless laws

There is something fundamentally wrong with Latvia's bureaucracy, Diena writes:

“The illusion of an active Ministry for Environmental Protection and Regional Development is being created here. The real issue is being ignored. Rules and regulations are all that matters in the eyes of the bureaucrats. There is speculation about the law having been drawn up because the working masses have complained and the EU Commission has also taken an interest in the issue. But it's unlikely that an EU commissioner will come to Latvia, travel to the rural areas and start checking the dry toilets and poking around in the shit. And the citizens' complaints? Are they a real argument? People have been complaining for years about coaldust in the harbours and illegal dumps. Without any results. … The bureaucrats are churning out law after law as if they were making pancakes. This should be borne in mind for the recently initiated reform of the country's bureaucracy.”