The messenger logo

EMC responds to the construction of a HPP in Imereti

By Khatia Bzhalava
Thursday, July 23
Human Rights and Monitoring Center-EMC reacts to the upcoming protest against Namakhvan cascade, scheduled on July 22nd in Kutaisi, and shares a statement calling on the government not to let this project to be implemented without a full examination of its social, economical and ecological consequences.

According to the statement published on the official website of EMC, the construction of massive cascades of HPP is planned to be carried out in the valley of river Rioni. Regardless of the controversy around the Namakhvan Hydroelectric Power Plant, in February of 2020, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia made a positive environmental decision on the HPP.

According to EMC, if built, the cascade of Namakhvan HPP will be the largest energetic project in Georgia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The project includes building of two dams of 50 and 111 meters, therefore due to its massive scale, the potential impact and possible risks on the local social and natural environment are high. As the statement reads, an area of possible inundation incase of the HPP construction includes homes of 111 families who are now under the threat of dispossession. Influence areas also include up to 20 statues of cultural heritage, a couple of villages and over 10 archeological sites.

The statement notes that the experts of numerous fields consider the area as risky and inconvenient for such constructions.

According to EMC, Financial and economical aspects of the project are doubtful as well. The project provides guaranteed sales agreements, extended for 8 months and as EMC states the practice of guaranteed sales agreement has been criticised multiple times.

The statement also stresses the COVID-19 factor as the post-crisis economical condition is yet uncertain and the current forecasts are vulnerable and superficial.

EMC suggests legal assessment which states that according to the constitution of Georgia and international conventions, society concerned should be engaged in every stage of decision-making regarding the issues of environmental and natural resource management. The statement reads that firm standards of environmental decisions have been created by the renewed Environmental Assessment Code. Moreover, in accordance with the instructions of the EU, maximally transparent processes of environmental activities have been implemented. However, according to the statement, regardless of defining standards of the legislative framework, EMC notes that the rights of the people concerned were restricted during the public discussion held by the government of Georgia on December 20th of 2020, in the framework of administrative procedure about Namakhvani-Zhoneti HPP. In particular, a public discussion took place 50 km away from the very area of designing, in the building of the mayor of Tskaltubo Municipality and as EMC states, most of the public's relevant and critical questions were left unanswered.

“Abovementioned makes it clear that the involvement of the society has solely formal nature. The locals are not provided with proper information on possible positive or negative influences of the project and about the measures for its mitigation,” reads the statement.

EMC states that the environmental decision contains a lot of important legal shortcomings since the government has not presented all the required documentation.

Human Rights and Monitoring Center calls on the government and the Ministry of Economics and Sustainable Development of Georgia to:
- Study the legitimacy of the environmental decision of Namakhvan HPP on the ground of alternative research.
- Suspend the process of building the HPP before the final decision is made.
- Elaborate systemic approach and strategy of renewable energy including the one of hydro-energetic development.
- Ensure the compliance with national and international legislation whilst planning the projects for HPP.
- eradicate the poor and intransparent practice of construction-planning and pre-arrangements with companies.
- Assure proper involvement of the persons concerned and the community under the influence of the HPP projects.
- Assure the protection of the people’s rights influenced by the HPP projects.