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Khudon HES is to be constructed as planned - Kaladze stresses

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, October 17
The Khudon Hydro Electro Power Station will be constructed as planned. The statement concerning the issue was made by the Minister of Energy Kakhi Kaladze, responding to the large-scale protest rallies against the power station.

Kaladze stressed that the "public views" and "freedom of expression" is significant for the government. However, the process will not be reviewed.

The minister emphasizes that residents of the adjacent areas where the power station will be placed would be given compensation and the situation will also be settled with regard to the patriarchate.

"When the investor presents the final version of the project, the church will be moved to a different place," Kaladze states.

The minister is also ignoring the oath Khaishi residents have made against constructing the power station. The minister stresses that those "who made the oath are opposing government and the state leadership should not let this be a precedent." It should be highlighted that oath has deep roots in Svaneti and carries significant importance for the people.

The minister suggests that there is a “growing demand" on electricity and the country will not satisfy the demand without Hydro Electro Power Stations. This position is shared by the energy analyst Archil Mamatelashvili.

"If we halt the construction of the power stations, especially the Khodon station, we will have to import electro energy, and that is expensive," Mamatelashvili states, adding that from an ecological point of view, electricity gained from the hydro-electro power stations is cleaner. The analyst agrees with the ministry in that the country requires energy independence.

Former energy minister Davit Mirtskhulava says that Khudon will be the second most powerful Hydro Electro Power stations in Georgia, after the Enguri power station.

"Khodon will produce 1.5 billion kilowatt - hour energy that is equal to 16% of the country's hydrogenation," Mirtskhulava states.

Svaneti residents claim that the power station will create a threat to the region and they will not let the construction go on.

"What does taking people's interest into consideration mean? Has the government discussed the issue with us? Did they speak with us concerning the pros and cons of the project? They are just talking about the compensation..." Father Giorgi Chartolani said.

Energy analyst Otar Turmanidze says that the Khudon power station project is based on the research conducted in the 80s.

“It is necessary that the research be conducted with modern technology today, for the real threats to become clear,” Turmanidze stated.

Fellow analyst, Geno Meskhia believes that the project will provide more negatives than positives.

“Nearly 530 hectares will be flooded, including pastures, forests, historical buildings and the church. Climate will be changed not only in the 5 km area, but in all of Svaneti,” Meskhia states.

Since 2005, active discussions and protest from the environment protectors have not ceased. During the election period, the Georgian Dream promised that they would stop building large hydro power stations.