The situation in Karbi and Ohanavan communities, Armenia, is tense: the villagers are opposing to the construction of SHPP, which, in their opinion, destroys the only source of their income – orchards. On 1 March Aragatsotn Regional Head Sargis Sahakyan visited Karbi community, who sought to convince the villagers that SHPP won’t harm them. Nevertheless, when the villagers and Pan-Armenian Environmental Front required the documents on SHPP, the regional head said, “the SHPP is not being constructed” and then said after a minute ‘it’s being constructed’.
The concerns of Karbi and Ohanavan are conditioned with the fact that they don’t know what exactly be constructed, “They first said that the canal is being constructed, then they say that the SHPP is constructed…What else should be constructed with these huge pipes…” the villagers said. Regional Head Sahakyan gave the following explanation about “mysterious” construction, “The SHPP is planned to be constructed in the following year, now works are carried out to rehabilitate the canal supplying water to Armavir.” "Gala Energy" Company director, which is going to operate the SHPP, said the following, "At this stage no works for the construction of the SHPP are conducted, pipe laying process has been launched. The subsidized part of Arzni-Shamiram canal is in disrepair by 90 %. Now a joint program has been developed together with the State Committee on Water Industry, so that our company constructs the pipeline with its own forces, afterwards issuing a water usage permit will be discussed". In reply to the question whether they had proper documents, the company director said, “We are entitled to conduct construction works, we have the village head’s permit, water usage permit, which are in our office.” It should be noted that the company director mentioned a minute earlier that they didn’t have the water usage permit. What about the required documents, the regional head said, “They are in progress”. In reply to the question whether he is sure that no harm will be caused to the population, the regional head said, “Who else, besides me, can be sure…The country’s president will tear off our heads, if even one liter of water will be used at the expense of villagers…” But the damage has already been caused: it’s a year since the trees turned out to be under ground and nobody’s opinion was asked for.
Three or four people are constructing this SHPP for their own benefit and nobody cares that 3000 household enterprises will be destroyed. We are creating nature, while they are destroying it…” Under the villages, the SHPP will undermine the irrigation system of 7 communities at once, but the company director and especially the regional head drastically don’t agree with it, “It’s not possible,” he insisted. The villagers commented it as follows, “Our regional head is their friend.” Karbi Village Head Karo Baghdasaryan’s attitude is as follows, “I’m considering it from the governmental viewpoint: the state interest is above our interests.” As the villagers are sure, the village heads reached this decision secretly. The villagers learnt about it only after the construction was launched. Now Karbi and Ohanavan villagers are not going to give up, their aim is the same – SHPP won’t be constructed.
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.
15:31 March 03, 2014