Social Opportunities and Energetic Policy: View from Armenia

Social Opportunities and Energetic Policy: View from Armenia

EcoLur

The problems of compliance of social opportunities of the civil society with the energetic policy run by the Armenian Government were presented in the course of 'South Caucasus Chalk Circle' conference in Tbilisi. The presenter – Inga Zarafyan, President of 'EcoLur' Informational NGO, especially outlined social problems connected with the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant, hydropower and fuelwood.

The 'pie' of energetic resources used in Armenia looks in the following manner: natural gas replaces 60% of energetic sector, hydropower – 6%, nuclear energy – 20%, charcoal and liquid gas – less than 1%. Biomass with significant specific weight of fuelwood makes up 5.1% of the energetic pie: it's a huge overload on the forest, particularly taking into consideration that Armenia is not a forest country, where forest cover makes up 11.2%, according to state 'ArmForest' organization and from 7 to 10% according to the estimates of different independent experts.

In regard with the Armenian nuclear power plant station, attention was paid to the social water conflict. One of the main social problems for the population in the impact zone of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant is the lack of water. For the complete and normal functioning of the ANPP, it takes its water from the sources in Ararat Valley - Sevjur River and underground sources. The supply of the Sevjur River reduced because of disbalance of water usage by fish farms in Ararat Valley, while its some natural sources near the origin of the Sevjur River disappeared (for example, Kulubeklu, Taronik). The surface area of Aknalitch Lake has reduced by 10 times, which drastically decreased the natural yield of water out of the lake. The population of the ANPP impacted communities experiences high lack of water, which will be continued. The new wells in this zone will be used for the water supply of the ANPP.
The social problems connected with hydropower have been examined by EcoLur in over then 80 communities impacted by SHPPs, Sevan-Hrazdan hydroenergy cascade and Vorotan hydrocascade.

Hydroenergetic sector in Armenia has been used for a long time, nevertheless, the strategy and policy for the development of this sector has been drawn up now, and still doesn't have any action plan plus insufficient control over existing energetic companies, poor equipment with low yield of electricity. As a result, the company uses maximum amount of water in the rivers leaving them almost without any water in low-water season. The monitoring of SHPPs showed that environmental problems are directly reflected in the impacted communities: people lose water, biodiversity, forest, irrigated land areas and their life quality decreases.
Meanwhile social programs for the impacted communities are not envisaged, and the same is true about supply of electricity with privileged tariffs. There is still no solution to emerging acute social conflicts.

Fuelwood takes a special role in the examination of social needs. As a rule, people use wood in the communities with low social level, as gas and electricity are expensive and tariffs don't comply with incomes. Officially only 35000 cubic meters per year is permitted for felling down, but the volume of illegal felling exceeds the permitted volume to a significant extent. This is not registered and mostly illegal timber, that is this sector is criminalized. People are detained because of illegal felling and are imposed huge fines and even are taken to the police. Nevertheless, laws don't work for so-called local 'authorities', which leads to atmosphere of injustice, unlawfulness and bears all the signs of corruption, the presentation says.

 

13:33 March 09, 2017


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