Whether SHPPs Are Reason for Frequent Attacks of Bears on Communities Located on Banks of Yeghegis River?

Whether SHPPs Are Reason for Frequent Attacks of Bears on Communities Located on Banks of Yeghegis River?

The communities near the Yeghegis River in Vayots Dzor Region are regularly attacked by brown bears. Gegham Margaryan, Department Head of Agriculture and Nature Protection of Vayots Dzor Regional Municipality, beat an alarm signal to EcoLur in this regard.

According to him, the bears are approaching other communities near Yeghegis without any fear, damaging households and the farms. "They damage crops, break fruit trees, destroy orchards, watermelon and cabbage fields, and eat animals. This is an inter-species struggle for food. If 15 years ago the bear, when it saw a person at a distance of 1 km, ran away, now when it is at a distance of 5 m, it approaches and does not leave. In the summer, at seven o'clock in the evening, we can see a bear sleeping in the vicinity of the village, at a distance of 500 meters," Gegham Margaryan said.

Gegham Margaryan connects this behavior of bears with the operation of many SHPPs built on the Yeghegis River. "The riverbed is overloaded with small hydropower plants by 50% and over, which causes great damage to flora and fauna. We have deprived wild and predatory animals of all opportunities to use the river. With all the river water in the pipeline, neither the bears nor the other wild animals can use the fauna in the river as food.

There is the same gorge and forest in Herher. Berries are several times more abundant in the forests of Yeghegis Community, more diverse and nutritious than in the forests of Herher, Jermuk and Kechut, but the bear does not harm the household farms in these communities. There is no such overload of SHPPs there, so there is no such a problem. There are no SHPPs in Vayq Region, and there are no such cases because nothing has been touched, no environmental problem has been caused, whereas in there is a serious problem Yeghegis. Naturally, there is a violation of the food chain here," Margaryan said.

When asked what attempts had been made to resolve this issue, Gegham Margaryan said that many letters had been sent to Environment Ministry, in response to which they had been offered to use sound and light signals. "There is a village, they even took the stick in their hands and tried to make the bear leave the area, nevertheless, the bear did not. What kind of sound signals? After a week, the bear gets used to it and realizes that it does not hurt him," he said.

According to the employee of the regional municipality, the struggle for human vs animal inter-species must be assessed and subjected to professional analysis in order to solve the problem. "A serious study is needed. We cooperated with the staff of the Scientific Center of Zoology and Hydroecology of NAS RA. This year they will try to study the problem," he said.

There are currently 17 SHPPs on the Yeghegis River and its tributaries. Touching upon the issue of overloading the Yeghegis River with HPPs, Gegham Margaryan noted that there is a need to review the water use permits (WP) issued to them.

"The amount of water was determined in 2005, but now we are in 2021: there is climate change, there is an actual amount of global warming. At the same time, the water supply has decreased. In other words, different water is used to operate the SHPP. Water use permits need to be changed. 70% of the trees on the river bank are either semi-dry or completely dry because they lack water. In addition, the nets for fish are very large, so the small fish goes to the turbine. During the Soviet era, fish poaching was five times higher, but there were fish. Fish poaching is controlled better by ten times now, but there are no fish," he said.

According to Margaryan, in case of revision of WPs, not only the amount of natural flow, water entering the generator should be calculated and controlled, but also the water in the environmental flow should be measured by a meter. During the irrigation season, the owner of the SHPP takes the water for his SHPP, as well as water is taken for irrigation, whereas there is no environmental flow water, while the whole fauna disappears within hours," he said.
Reminder: in September 2020, Environment Ministry announced that water use permits issued to 17 hydropower plants located on the Yeghegis River Basin would be examined. The discrepancies and inaccuracies in the SHPPsnwill be identified, the quantities set by the water use s will be reviewed and the volume of actual water intake by the SHPPs will be specified.

April 06, 2021 at 16:09