Programs implemented with environmental fees in mining-affected communities have nothing to do with environmental protection or health, as Oleg Dulgaryan, Head of 'Community Mobilization and Support Center NGO in Alaverdi expressed this idea in his interview with EcoLur.
According to the RA legislation, a number of companies that have harmful impact on communities pay environmental fees to the state budget. Affected communities can benefit from this money by submitting environmental and health plans to the government to mitigate the negative impacts of companies' operations.
100.5 million AMD was allocated in 2019 for implementation of environmental and population health rehabilitation programs in Alaverdi, Akor and Haghpat. In particular, 17,307,000 AMD was allocated for the construction of playgrounds and sports fields for children and adults in Alaverdi and Akor settlements, 17,443,000 AMD for the repair of fallen stone walls along the streets.
As a health plan, 8,040,000 AMD is provided for children in the summer camps in Alaverdi, Haghpat and Akori, 9,984,000 AMD for providing residents with holiday packages to health camps, 5,112,000 AMD for providing food to pregnant women in Alaverdi, Haghpat and Akor. During the implementation of these measures, about 10 million drams were saved, which, as a result of a public discussion, were decided to direct to the renovation of the alley of Guy Street in Alaverdi.
“The alley is a good thing, but it does not solve any environmental or health problem in the community. Planting flowers is, of course, aesthetic, but it does not alleviate environmental issues. There is heavy metal in the areas adjacent to the kindergartens and schools of Alaverdi. These areas should be cleaned and disposed of. Large-scale tree planting can also be an environmental action,” Oleg Dulgaryan said.
Dulgaryan fears that the Alaverdi copper smelter will no longer work so environmental subsidies to Alaverdi community will be stopped, while Alaverdi's environmental and health problems won’t eliminate with the closedown of the plant and may even last decades.
This material has been prepared within “Mining-Impacted Communities – Full Participants in EITI Process'” project implemented by EcoLur with the USAID support within the frames of “Engaged Citizenry for Responsible Governance” project implemented by Transparency International Anticorruption Center.
This article is made possible by the generous support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.
13:08 October 23, 2019