The World Bank stopped the investigation of the Qaghtsrashen gravity irrigation system project based on the complaint filed by Garni residents. The Bank substantiated its action the projects amendments made based on the proposals of the affected community are provided with relevant assurances, which will prevent the possible damage of the project.
Under the amended project, the water intake from the Azat River will be carried out in the lower section using the existing pumping station in Hatsavan. Under the project, the environmental flow left in the river shall make up 850 l/s.
Garni activist Arusyak Ayvazyan doesn't agree with the response of the World Bank, 'Garni residents were demanding to annul the Qaghtsrashen project, as it was a disastrous project from the very beginning. All the versions of the project are disastrous for the Azat Gorge, as the Azat River has extremely little water and can't ensure the natural life in gorge – flora, fauna and fish world. It's August and there are only 700-800 liters of water flowing in the river. How can a river perform its self-cleaning function, maintain fauna, flora and then give around water of 1000 liter per second to the Qaghtsrashen gravity irrigation system project. If we calculate in this way, the river owes the Qaghtsrashen project,' Arusyak Ayvazyan said.
It should be mentioned that Garni residents are not provided normal irrigation water, so as to how high levels of the river. ' A person's right to live in their native country is violated. People voluntarily leave their hometown to survive,' Arusyak Ayvazyan said.
In her interview with EcoLur Garni resident Lusine Chilingaryan mentioned that it's the second year they don't have any irrigation water for their land areas, 'We have 1300 square meters of personal plot with orchards – apple, cherry, peach, apricot, but all the trees get dry: we haven't had any irrigation water over the recent two years. We used to have drinking water till May, but when it's June, July, August or even September, the situation is disastrous – we have only one hour or half an hour of running water.'
'Being rich in water resources Garni supplies water to the most part o Yerevan, as well as several villages in Artashat, nevertheless, nowadays Garni residents are not provided with drinking and irrigation water. We haven't had any water running from the tap for over a month.'
Garni residents think that the Qaghtsrashen project is inefficient and list the risks:
• In case of the implementation of the Qaghtsrashen project, Garni Gorge from the point of Hatsavan pumping station to Azat Reservoir will turn into a desert because of not having any water.
• Azat reservoir won't get filled, which irrigates 7100 ha of land area, causing social tension and increasing the level of poverty.
• There is no guarantee that the land areas irrigated with the pumping stations from Azat Reservoir will get any water in case of the implementation of the Qaghtsrashen project and the water won't get directed to some newly-planted orchards only.
• Not-full state of Azat reservoir will be used to take additional water from Lake Sevan.
Thus, it turns out that the Qaghtsrashen gravity irrigation system project implemented with the funding of the World Bank contradicts the mission of the World Bank to combat poverty and to ensure environmental and social sustainability.
17:27 August 18, 2017