Ecological Safety Should Be Included in Priority Actions of Environment Ministry
On December 18, the meeting of the ecological community with RA Environment Minister Romanos Petrosyan took place, where during the meeting, the most worrying issues were tabled - proposals related, first of all, to a constructive public dialogue with the Ministry on the mechanisms aimed to ensure public participation in the decision-making process. This applies both to public hearings on drafts and to the discussion of deeper issues, environmental policies and strategies.
As it turned out, the remote discussion on the official website e-draft.am, which publishes bills and draft decisions, most non-governmental organizations are not happy about, as the format does not allow to understand to what extent attention was paid to this or that opinion during the decision-making. In response, the Minister promised to restore the activities of the Public Council under the Ministry, which had not been functioning for the last two years.
Another important issue is the mining industry, in particular the operation of Amulsar gold-bearing quartzite mine. The representatives of the public once again drew attention to the fact that the positive expert opinion on the environmental impact assessment issued by the Ministry of Nature Protection (former name of Environment Ministry) should be recognized as invalid. Answering the minister's question, the ecologists assured that there were real grounds for reviewing the conclusion and promised to provide the relevant documents.
The issue of the security of the Amulsar project was also raised, which is especially worrying in the post-war period. The Turkish-Azerbaijani hostilities have been frozen, but the locals have no guarantee of their own security, which is exacerbated by the presence of dangerous facilities such as cyanide near Jermuk resort and Gndevaz residential area, as well as changes in the mountainous landscape protecting the area as a result of mining.
The Minister noted that the issue of expert assessment should be resolved globally, that the Ministry is working in this direction not only at the legislative level, but also ath the institutional level.
The problems of hydropower and small hydropower plants remain unresolved as rivers continue to be exploited, leading to the destruction of river ecosystems. EcoLur reminds that the database on the impact of SHPPs on river ecosystems, which contains data analysis of 125 small hydropower plants, was provided to RA Ministry of Nature Protection in 2018, RA legislative amendments related to hydropower were prepared based on on that analysis and recommendations proposed to the government.
Environmental security issues have become a priority, for example, in Sotq, where workers at Sotq gold mine have already faced Azeri demands to vacate the mine, or in Syunik, where the demarcation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which is related to mining infrastructure, is taking place. There are facilities that pose a high risk to humans and the environment, such as tailing dumps. There is a precedent when about 2,000 hectares of forest were burned as a result of Azerbaijan's use of phosphorous weapons. The local population is concerned about the risks of water bodies. No warning measures have been developed in that direction.
The problems of Lake Sevan remain unresolved: pollution due to lack of treatment plants, illegal structures in the area below 1905 meters above sea level, fish farming, poaching. The Minister agreed that the measures taken to preserve the ecosystem of the lake should be of a systemic nature.
December 21, 2020 at 19:17