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Mountain sale plan put on hold

Austria has cancelled plans by the BIG - the Austrian federal real estate company (Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft) to sell-off two mountains.

BIG was offering the 2,690-metre Großer Kinigat peak and the 2,600-metre Roßkopf for 121,000 Euros. The tender was for the land of 1.2 million square metres altogether.

But after widespread protest BIG spokesman Ernst Eichinger said: "We have broken off the sale pending a review."

Eichinger spoke on Tuesday after speaking with Economics Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner, who spoke out against the sale on the open market of the two peaks.

Fritz Gurgiser who is Tyrol's provincial prizewinner for nature and the environment as well as an MP in the provincial parliament said: "They should keep their hands off our mountains. They are Holy for us."

And local governer's spokesman Hannes Gschwentner said: "This mountain sale is the height of madness from the black blue government."

The Große Kinigat which is one of those for sale also comes with a war memorial in the form of a giant cross that was laid as a tribute to the soldiers who died when Italian troops tried to claim the strategically important peak.

On its website BIG says the two peaks offered the "most stunning views of the Alps and are popular destinations for mountain climbers and hikers".

The peaks are in the easternmost part of Tyrol province, home to some of Europe's highest mountain ranges.

Local and opposition politicians had also spoken out against the deal, and Eichinger says his office was bombarded with calls and e-mails with contents ranging from "indignation to abuse".

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