'EcoLur' Informational NGO has addressed a letter to the MPs of the National Assembly on the cessation of Teghout copper and molybdenum mine and the violation of the residents' rights in the impacted communities, which particularly says:
'Dear MPs of RA National Assembly,
The Armenian Government has demonstrated indifference and didn't respond to the concerning statement of 'Teghout' CJSC, which says that the company is stopping the operation of Teghout copper and molybdenum mine and is terminating employment contracts with 1032 employees.
However, the executive deprived the residents of Teghout and Shnogh villages from 81,483 ha of agricultural land areas in Lori Region declaring eminent domain over these land areas with its resolution 1279-Ն dated on 1 November 2007 and promised to open working places and to develop the villages due to mining. As it turns out, Teghout copper and molybdenum mine had been developed for around 3 years before the announcement of the company. Over these three years very serious problems have piled up in regard to soil and water pollution, violation of people's rights to health, live in the healthy environment, right to compensation and violation of sanitary standards. The people have applied to the competent bodies in charge for many times and are still continuing to do so, nevertheless, neither problems have been solved or governmental promises have been kept.
'They operated the mine with eminent domain, and now actually they cause damage to the people – health, work, most of the people are deprived of their land areas and cattle breeding. It turns out, in this case the people haven't been recognized as eminent domain for the state. If we now compare what they have given to what they have damages, our losses are irreversible – even it won't make 0.5%...Our concerns are as follows: factually, the mine isn't operating now, but if we start, how it will start? Are they going to take our opinions into account, whether or not we are against? Actually, people are deprived of everything. There are two ways out: either leave here or go against them,' Shnogh Community Aldermen's Council Member Ashot Adamyan in his interview with EcoLur.
People's right to choose their own activities have been violated because of Teghout project implementation.
'The tails come from their tailing dump and flow into the Shnogh River and then into the Debed River from the Shnogh River. Our irrigation pumping station starts from the Debed. We complained and started not to dump into the Shnogh River: they have their own pumping station and dump their wastes directly into the Debed River. Their waste was so much that they dumped even during the daytime. This year was very hot one, we had to water plants many times, but the water was a problem: the plants got dry immediately after watering.
Today I have cut down 350 orchard trees. If it continues at this rate, next year I will have to cut down my another orchard, which has 350 fruit trees in it. I have other land areas when I plan to plant orchards, but I won't risk. If certain people have been deprived of their land areas, I have been deprived of the right to use my own land areas,' Ashot Adamyan said.
Reminder: 'Teghout' CJSC shall plant 714 ha forest instead of 357 ha forest to be cut down. In 2015 RA Nature Protection and Agriculture Ministers decided to plant orchards in 180 ha out of planned 714 ha forest. Already 31 ha of orchards have been planted in Shnogh, nevertheless, RA competent governmental bodies and companies keep silence how these orchards will grow and to what extent the harvest of the orchards will be safe.
Right to living in a healthy environment has been violated.
'Forests are supposed to have the cleanest air, but I was suffocating with the gas smell when I was taking my cattle to the mountains for pasture. They have deprived us of clean air,' Shnogh Aldermen's Council member said.
The right of ownership has been violated.
Shnogh community resident Levon Alikhanyan has been voicing for many years that his rights to property ownership have been violated because of project implementation. Under Alikhanyan, without his will, his land area of 7.5 ha and buildings were used for the project and 7000 sq. m. area has been alienated without his knowledge. 'Before mapping, I had 1 hectare 3500 sq.m. area with a property right on my name. During mapping this land area turned to be 6000 sq.m., i.e. 7000 sq.m. has gone. As it turns out during these fake transactions I experienced loss of property. It was the village head who signed the papers and I didn't know that my right to property had been infringed: at that moment I didn't look at the map to see the map had been amended,' Levon Alikhanyan said.
We are applying to you so as to examine serious economic, social and environmental problems connected with the cessation of mining operations by 'Teghout' CJSC and non-fixed termination of employment contracts, the absence of compensation for caused damage. Please, examine the soil management permitting documentation provisions signed between the Armenian Government and 'Teghout' CJSC, the grounds of governmental resolution № 1279-Ն dated on 1 November 2007 on recognizing eminent domain over the land areas of Teghout and Shnogh villages, the response of'Teghout' CJSC addressed to the demands of the local residents on compensation.
We do expect that in case of detecting violations you will demand from the Armenian Government to take relevant measures to obligate the company to eliminate the violations, to recover the damage caused to residents and environment, to reclaim the damaged areas in the environment and to ensure the safety of the environment.'
19:52 March 06, 2018