SHPP reform process shall include a social component so as to reduce the negative consequences of the small hydropower on affected communities and bring benefits to the communities.
Shatin Village, Vayots Dzor Region, is located in the littoral area of the Yeghegis River. The richest wealth the village has is the river, which ensures well-being for Shatin residents, starting from agroproducts, fish reserves, tourism to climate mitigation. Now Shatin residents complain that they can't fully make use of the river, as the SHPPs having recently been constructed on the river dry the river creating social and environmental problems: 10 SHPPs are constructed on the Yeghegis River, and one of them is actually constructed on the irrigation system. SHPPs are in the form of HPP cascades: 'During the summer season there is no water over kilometers. The entire sewage flows into the river and the river vegetation gets eliminated...If you can't irrigate, what you will harvest?...What is the benefit of SHPPs for people? What have they done for people? They only collect their income and leave... When there wasn't any SHPPs here, the electricity cost 30 AMD, now there are many, but the electricity costs 48 AMD,' Shatin residents complained in their meeting with EcoLur.
Shatin residents started complaining against SHPPs still in 2012 when a SHPP was being constructed in their area. They held a general meeting in their village on 18 August 2012 and recorded:
'… Our ancestors have decided to settle here mainly because of the river flowing through the village, as our village doesn't have water resources. Because of SHPP construction the area ecology gets completely violated, springs will get dry and nature with its flora and fauna will get destroyed, poor sanitary and hygienic conditions will exist and our next generations will inherit a desertified village.'
It should be mentioned that in 2009-2012 the State Environmental Impact Monitoring Center presented data that the water temperature in the Yeghegis River had increased by 1 Celsius degree within 3 years. Water transparency has decreased by 3 points (cm), concentration of oxygen 2 point (mg/l). Shatin residents said that the average temperature of the air in the community has decreased by 3-4 degrees and it becomes impossible to live in the community in the summer season. It's necessary to mitigate the social conflict in the SHPP affected community conditioned with the following:
Insufficiency of water in the river in low season,
Change in water quality,
Reduction in fish reserves,
Violation of landscape and biodiversity,
Hindering development of agriculture and ecotourism,
Absence of compensation mechanisms in case of SHPP pipeline breakout and damages,
Noise generated by SHPP equipment,
Activation of landslide,
Insufficient participation of participants in the decision-making process.
Aram Gabrielyan, an expert of 'Khazer' Environmental and Cultural NGO and a member of Multi-Stakeholder Council of Expert Group of "Supporting new reforms in SHPP sector through CSO-government dialogue" project, presented one proposal addressed to the regulation of the conflicts. 'In order to mitigate the social impact of SHPPs it's necessary, on the one hand, to drastically reduce the harmful impact of SHPPs on water and near-water ecosystems and at the same time to provide compensation to the affected communities for the impact on environment, as well as for ecosystem services in the form of fees.'
11:31 June 14, 2017