Women may become the most active part of the society in asserting their green rights. Anahit Gevorgyan, Chairperson of 'Public Council of Martuni Women', and Liana Asoyan, Chairperson of 'Blejan' Environmental NGO, shared her experience in the course of 'South Caucasus Chalk Circle' conference held in Tbilisi.
The first SOS signal on the construction of a SHPP on the Gayladzor, a tributary to the Argitchi River, was beaten in 2010. The alarm signal was beaten by the residents of 5 communities – Geghhovit, Madina, Verin Getashen, Nerqin Getashen and Vaghashen.
''Argitchi is one of the most full-flowing rivers flowing into Lake Sevan. At first, it was intended to change the riverbed and to use one of its largest tributaries for SHPPs. But this river supplies water to 5 communities, and these residents beated an alarm signal. The local NGOs and our NGOs were involved in the process of protecting their rights. Protest demonstrations and active discussions were held. People even blocked the road, as it's the shortest way to make the government aware of the problem. The road was unblocked after long negotiations. Nevertheless, the prosecutor's office exercised pressure on the residents, including women, but we demonstrated proof on the unlawfulness of this project. As a result, the project was suspended and a decision was reached to dismantle the SHPP,' Anahit Gevorgyan presented.
Liana Asoyan outlined that huge damage was caused to nature in the course of this time with landslides and erosion. The local authorities simply made a warning and, as a result, a fine in the amount of 400,000 AMD was estimated. 'Why 400,000 AMD? Because our law says, if the fine makes up 400,001 AMD, the case will go to court,' Liana Asoyan outlined.
'They were going to take this water off from the communities, where women bear water with buckets. Besides, this river has unique biodiversity with red-listed and endemic species,' she noted.
After several year they presented a new project with the same risks.
''After the first project, there was huge pressure on people: they were taken to the prosecutor's office, including women. When the second project was launched, no protests were held, but 4-5 leaks occurred during two years. The land areas of the people, their crops were damages, the fish world also suffered losses. People were given compensations of around 100-200 USD.
The conflict is that victims insist it's money as a compensation and not money for their land areas, while the company and the local administration insist, this money is for easement agreement. The conflict led to court litigation and pressure and unrest started in the village. The NGOs interfered and started protecting the rights of local women. Nevertheless, the land areas had already been used for the construction, we could manage to get additional compensation,' the speakers say.
In the spring of 2016 EcoLur's expert group visited 'Argitchi' SHPP and held an independent monitoring there. You can learn the findings of the monitoring here.
15:29 March 14, 2017