The messenger logo

Patriarch advices Gov’t to speak with people over power lines

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, May 17
Georgia’s Patriarch Ilia II has advised the Government to speak with people and find an appropriate solution regarding the construction of high voltage power lines in the mountainous Pasanauri area, which has stirred protests and inspired rallies in the local population.

Patriarch Ilia II, who also comes from the mountainous Kazbegi region, has appealed to the energy authorities to solve the problem with the local population, who are against the construction project as they believe it will cause cancer and other illnesses, as well as landslides and the destruction of cemeteries and their holy places.

The Patriarch says that when starting the construction of the 500 megawatt power line towers near several villages, the government was only thinking about the country’s economic welfare.

However, Ilia II stated that tourism was also a source of income for the state budget, which would be set at risk in Pasanauri if the towers were too close to houses.

“Together with our culture, tourists come to Georgia because of the ecologically clean environment and intact nature. Family tourism in the mountainous regions is one of the key sectors of the economy, and we shouldn’t create barriers for its development. The location of high voltage power lines near the residential areas will disturb family tourism,” Ilia II says.

The Patriarch believes that changing the route for the power line towers may be related to allocating more money; however, he says everything should be done for an outcome to be found and the people to “feel the Government’s support”.

The Patriarch also says the adoption of the Mountain Law by the current authorities, which offers privileges for those living in such areas, caused a positive reaction and inspired people to improve the mountainous zones of the country, and these policies should be maintained.

Georgia’s Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze has stated that the power line towers that would connect Georgia, Russia, Armenia and Iran, are a very important project and “no one would derail” it.

The Minister stated that the turmoil in the local population was “staged by destructive forces”, which he refrained from naming.

However, locals say that no third force is involved in the process and stress the gorge where the power lines would be placed is narrow with fragile rocks, and the high voltage would create risks of cancer, leukaemia and cause landslides, as trees are being cut in the construction process.

The residents of the Muduga village said that the tractors started works near their homes without earlier warning, which caused stones to fall and created safety risks for the locals, especially for the children who use the nearby road to travel to and from the school.

The locals also say that the Minister’s statement as if the rallies are “managed by someone” is an offense to them, as they are defending their interests and rights.

The Energy Minister may meet with the locals in the near future to discuss the issue.

Construction works were launched by the Energotrans Company. Energotrans Ltd was founded in 2002, and since its foundation, 100% of the company’s equity interest has been owned by the Georgian state.

The lines are planned to be over the villages of Oshpiteli, Khando, Chartali, Muguda and Knondis Khevi.