Agarak is an industrial town, where all the infrastructures are connected with one plant – Agarak copper and molybdenum combine (owned by GeoProMining Company). It’s difficult to receive any assessment of the environmental situation in Agarak. After ten minutes after EcoLur working group appeared on Agarak square, Mayor Mkhitar Zakaryan approached to us. We didn’t have any arrangements for the meeting. Mayor didn’t agree to give an interview, but he said that the town is developed and beautified due to Agarak copper and molybdenum combine. When he was asked how he assesses the socio-ecological situation, he said he beforehand agreed with the evaluations to be given by the combine. “If you want to, you may arrange with the combine and they will tell you about their programs,” he said.
It was a good day and many residents strolled around the square. But they turned out not be so talkative. Here are brief extracts from our conversation.
“We are pleased not with everything, but satisfied. We have a nice town, with asphalt, everything is normal…”, “If somebody is all, s/he gets treatment. Treatment is not bad, we are pleased, we have a good hospital and good service…Don’t you have any problems? – We are not ecologists to reveal problems. But everything is OK with us. We like it…”
This is how the residents answered and went away hiding from camera. Only in one case we heard, “What about ecology, we have bad air and high radiation. At present we have many ill people, almost everybody has headaches, particularly women. Here women have many problems with health.”
The residents of neighboring Meghri town spoke more about Agarak, many of them were or are employed in Agarak and are well aware of the situation.
Meghri Mayor Sergey Hayrapetyan, “At present over 1000 people are employed at Agarak combine, and the town exists at the expense of the combine. If the combine closes down, the town will stop existing.”
Meghri Ex Mayor Misha Hovhannisyan, “On one hand, you think that people are exposed to toxic, on the other hand, we need jobs so people could live here, earn their livings and survive. In any case, this is our country and our jobs. What else should people do? If people now work and extract gold, hazard surely exists. In general, each opencast mine is a hazard, harmful for health, on the other hand, what is not harmful?”
To be continued.
12:41 May 31, 2012