EcoLur had an interview with Manana Kochladze, Regional Coordinator of CEE Bankwatch Network, Chairperson of 'Green Alternative' NGO about the violation of human rights in the energetic project in the South Caucasus countries. The meeting was held in the frames of 'South Caucasus Chalk Circle' conference held in Tbilisi.
'In our region too many investments are directed at infrastructure projects in the energy sector. Very often, both projecting and project implementation are carried out at low levels, which results in sufferings of people. An example from Armenia is 'Argitchi' SHPP, which had many accidents leading to damage of villagers' land areas. Another example from Georgia is the project of constructing high-voltage power transmission lines in the villages, where there are direct violations of human rights related with land ownership. The government of Georiga registed community land areas as its own or land areas, which haven't been registered yet, then sells them to companies at a symbolic price. An example is 'Khudoni' HPP, where the investors were gifted a whole village, where houses stand, people live and cattle is bred. It's a direct violation of human rights: these people inherited their land areas and despite the fact these land areas were not registered in the roster, the government shouldn't have simply gifted it to an investment company. All over the world this phenomenon is called 'seizure of land areas', which is widely practised by different corporations, especially in South East Asia,' Manana Kochladze commented. She also pointed out the problem of the impact of energetic projects at price formation.
''Price formation methodology is not transparent. The Ministry is drawing up different contracts for different projects. Nobody knows how this price has been formed, but we must be sure that it's a fair price and nobody is earning money. In all three countries of the South Caucasus tariffs are determined without consultation and without taking into consideration people's opinion: that's incorrect. Who said people need electricity at any price? No, people need electricity and fair prices. We already have the phenomenon of 'energetic poverty', when people pay for expensive electricity instead of spending them on the needs of their family. These three countries – Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, woudln't experience this problem, if they had a democratic structure and a well-developed legislation, which would protect both people and nature,' Manana Kochladze said. In reply to the question what kind of mechanisms citizens may use for the protection of their rights, she said, 'They may sue or use the mechanism of the Ombudsman or to present the problem to the government of that country, where the company operates, if it's a foreign one. Nevertheless, the main mechanism is that people will protect their own rights, while the goal of a civil society is to support it.'
15:22 March 03, 2017