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NGOs contest government plans to construct hydropower stations

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, July 29
The current government of Georgia is following the path of the previous one and has not suspended the construction of the large hydroelectric power stations being constructed. NGOs and the public say that this is an unreasonable state strategy and according to them, “will cause an environmental disaster, affect people, nature and the country’s tourism potential.” The Ministry of Energy discussed the necessity of hydroelectric stations, and stressed that public involvement, as well as nature issues will be ensured.

This issue was the topic during a meeting organized by NGO Stepantsminda on July 26th. The meeting concerned the energy politics carried out by the Georgian government. The energy politics means construction of small, medium or large hydroelectric stations on practically all the rivers.

The construction of several stations has already been launched and tens of new ones are planned for the near future.

All the NGOs and representatives of those regions where hydroelectric stations are being constructed or will be built attended the July 26 meeting.

The attendees stressed that the government “violated the election promise concerning suspending construction of large hydroelectric stations and continued the United National Movement government’s aims in this regard.”

The attendees also stressed that the country’s economic development should be based on the “state’s sustainable development model” and the new government has failed to deliver such a model.

“No research has been undertaken concerning the water, how much water is in a river; there were conclusions made concerning the environment based on hypothesis only,” the NGO, Green Alternative claims.

Representative of Stepantsminda, Shota Buchukuri, stated that building the hydroelectric station in the Kazbegi region (Darial Hydroelectric station) means that 90% of the Tergi River water will be framed in an 8 km tube that will change the landscape and threaten the unique species there. “Practically there will be no river,” Buchukuri said.

According Stepantsminda resident, Zaza Tsiklauri, after demands were made for suspending the construction of large stations, a state commission was formed for studying hydro resources utilization.

“However, the commission was formed with such individuals like Energy Minister, Kakhi Kaladze, his deputy Ilia Eloshvili and some others who have interests in this regards and whom we criticize,” Tsiklauri stated.

“We are in a hard period now, with a bad inheritance, the procedures are not appropriate in many cases and we have to deal with the various technical and structural obstacles. That is why we should discuss the issues with analysts and the interested sides,” said Minister of Environment, Khatuna Gogaladze.

She stated that “the annulment of agreements with investors might happen in case if memorandum conditions are violated. “Already, a signed agreement cannot be rejected due to the reason that the government changed,” Gogaladze said.

Minister of Energy, Kaladze, stated that “the building of large hydro-electric stations became necessary, as demand on electro-energy is increasing from year-to-year. However, he stated that “environmental issues will maximally be taken into account.”

Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili mentioned that “many investors are interested in constructing hydro-electric stations in Georgia. He stressed the importance of energy, but admitted that “destroying our children’s future will not be justified.” Thus, the PM appealed to all sides to discuss such issues together.

The organizations gathered to discuss the problem on July 26, and achieved certain agreements. Buchukuri told The Messenger that all the representatives and professionals on the energy issue will deliver their views and recommendations at the beginning of September. The recommendations will be delivered to the government. They also plan to demand the creation of a commission working on hydro-energy issues consisting of the field professionals and not the members of the ministries. The meeting also suggested that it would be more profitable if the government expressed interest in some other means for gaining energy, like wind energy usage and thermo electric power stations.