“Why are people unaware of the public hearings?
Why all the people were not aware of the gas debt for 300,000 million AMD to Russia?” - a citation from the public hearings of Kosh SHPP.
The public hearings on Kosh SHPP project were held in Kosh Community, Aragatsotn Region, on 6 December. The SHPP is planned to be constructed on the Kosh branch of Arzni-Shamiram canal. This project had been submitted by “AKAG” LLC.
The canal supplies water to three communities – Kosh, Aragatsotn and Nor Edessia. Nevertheless, only one community took part in the hearings – Kosh, moreover, Aragatsotn and Nor Edessia communities weren’t even included in the project as affected communities.
The heads of the neglected communities responded in the following manner:
Aragatsotn Village Head Melsik Ghazaryan:
- We haven’t been told anything. If I were aware, I’d participate with great pleasure. It’s important for our community residents not to have any fluctuations in water…
Nor Edessia Village Head Vahan Abgaryan:
- Who has informed us about it?... This year we received water in late April, and it was cut off on 28 October. We hope we will have one month more water with the help of this people.”
According to Kosh Village Head Ashot Yengibaryan, the SHPP won’t disturb the neighboring communities. “I don’t to what extent they are stakeholders and to what extent they are competent,” he said. Nature Protection Ministry expert Heriqnaz Mkrtchyan noted that she had no idea that another two communities make use of this canal, as the project doesn’t say a word about it.
The public hearings organized by “AKAG” LLC had drawbacks. You can’t get read the project, as it was not displayed on the website of the ministry, the community also didn’t know much about the project, even village municipality employees. As EcoLur found out on the spot, most villagers has no idea about the hearings either. Several aware villagers noted, “We don’t resist, if our water won’t get less…The whole garbage in the canal will be cleaned…the most important thing for us is not to have the water cut off…”
It should be mentioned that only technical consultant of the company, Spartak Galstyan, attended the public hearings, who found it difficult to answer several questions, “I’m in charge of the technical part and I don’t know anything else,” he said.
EcoLur’s working group thinks that the SHPP project should be amended and complemented in the following points:
1. Aragatsotn and Nor Edessia communities should be recognized as affected communities and new public hearings should be organized with the participation of two community residents,
2. The project should say the amount of the water intake designed for all communities with their irrigation and their indicators,
3. The project should be displayed on the website of Nature Protection Ministry at least one week before the public hearings.
This material was made possible through the full support of Open Society Foundations – Armenia’s Policy Fellowship Program Initiative, grant number 18571. Ideas, thoughts, and arguments presented in the paper are the sole expression of the author’s views and do not reflect those of Open Society Assistance Foundations – Armenia.
14:53 December 10, 2013