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Compiled by Messenger Staff
Thursday, September 19
Khudonhesi: to build or not to build?

Radio Liberty reports that the investor company of the hydro electric power station, the government and environmental protection organizations met with the locals of Khaishi to discuss the report on Khudonhesi’s effects on the environment on September 17th.

The company Trans Electrica Georgia’s project is considering the construction of 700 megawatt hydro electric power station and 200 meter high dam. As a result more than 500 hectares of territory will be flooded, including several villages. Environment protection organizations as well as the part of the local population are against implementation of the project.

Local resident, Zurab Nizharadze, said let them build a smaller dam that will not affect the village. “Thus the village Khaishi will overcome extinction, the church and cemetery will also overcome flooding and the results on the energetic view point will be almost the same,” he said.

Representative of the NGO Green Alternative, Davit Chipashili, who attended the discussion, said the locals have two main demands: to build a station that would not affect them, and to return the lands they had been deprived of.

The locals refer to 1,400 hectares of land defined for constructing the power station. According to the locals of Khaishi, this land belonged to them as pastures, but the former government had given it to the investor company for symbolic price. Representative of Trans Electrica Georgia, Nino Asatiani, said this land is state property and this is why the locals should talk to the state officials over this issue to find out which piece belonged to people, and which belongs to the state.

Current Minister of Energy, Kakha Kaladze, commented on the issue, saying that the interests of the local population will be considered.

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said on behalf of the Georgian government that that this project will help to restore Svaneti. “Not only Svaneti, but all of Georgia needs it,” he said, referring to the construction of Khudonhesi. He said “sections of Georgia's nature will be flooded at certain places,” but promised that the interests of each person will be considered. “But we should not hinder the strategy for the country’s development,” PM stated earlier.

Asatiani explained to Radio Tavisupleba that compensation will be distributed according to World Bank standards that consider ensuring that each person will receive money or other forms of compensation they consider necessary. In particular, the compensation will give them an opportunity to start up businesses and live in normal conditions.

Despite this explanation, the locals of Khaishi say they will not change their position over the issue. Zurab Nizharadze said they have given an oath that they will not let this project be carried out. “We cannot become the grave-diggers of Svaneti!” he told Radio Liberty.