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New protest wave against Khudon Hydro Electro Power Station

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Friday, January 31
People from the Svaneti mountain village of Khaishi held demonstration against the construction of the Khudon hydro-electro power station. At a rally on January 29 locals of Svaneti still feared that the dam will wipe out their community.

Demonstrators blocked the road to Jvari-Mestia with rocks to interrupt land surveying work and said they will not allow the dam to be built.

Deputy Energy Minister Ilia Eloshvili earlier warned that anyone who interrupts work in Khaishi will be punished.

“The population will have the lands registered of which they were deprived,” Eloshvili said explaining that 1,500 hectares of land these people have been deprived of will be registered to them. Afterwards the data will be sent to the state in order for the public register to approve them as legal owners.

However, locals met the construction workers with a rally. The population demanded that the workers leave the area.

Residents of Khaishi have given an oath that they will not let anyone take away their sacred image and graves.

“More than 200 people only from our village have sworn to defend our land, and we are not alone, people from other villages and regions also support us,” one local resident said.

Active discussions and protest from the environmental activists have not ceased over the construction of Khudoni for ages. During the election period, the Georgian Dream coalition promised that they would stop building large hydro-power stations, but last autumn the Minister of Energy Kakha Kaladze stated that the Khudon station will be constructed as planned.

According to the Ministry Khodon will produce 1.5 billion kilowatt - hour energy that is equal to 16% of the country's hydro generation. Trans Elektrika Limited is building a 702 MW hydro-electric power station, costing about $776 million. Construction work should end in 73 months.

However, environment protectors think that nearly 530 hectares will be flooded, including pastures, forests, historical buildings and the church.