River Ecosystem Doesn’t Recognize Political Borders: Environmentalist about Draft Law on SHPPs

River Ecosystem Doesn’t Recognize Political Borders: Environmentalist about Draft Law on SHPPs


The Ministry of Environment proposes to allow the construction of SHPPs on the rivers crossing RA state border, at a distance of 1 km from the border. For this purpose, the Ministry proposes to amend the resolution adopted by the Government in 2021, which specified the 25 rivers on which applications for water use permits for small hydroelectric power plants to be built shall be rejected.

According to Inga Zarafyan, an environmentalist and President of "EcoLur" Informational NGO, the proposed draft law has nothing to do with environmental protection and is most likely a result of political pressure. Moreover, the rationale that the construction of a small hydropower plant in the border area will not exert a negative impact on the river ecosystem is qualified by Zarafyan as an "ignorant claim": "The river ecosystem does not recognize political borders," she added.

In her conversation with "Ankakh", Zarafyan tells that, at the initiative of "EcoLur", 8 experts studied the impact of small hydropower plants on the ecosystem of rivers for 4.5 years. A number of problems were brought out and presented to the government as a result of scrutunizing 125 HPPs. "For example, we have rivers where there used to be red-listed fish, but now there are none. The river ecosystem is disturbed.

As a result, the government adopted a resolution in 2021 and laid down the list of rivers that are that are spawning grounds of endemic fish species typical of the area or red-listed species in Armenia that are 40 percent or more loaded with derivation pipes. The negative consequences of the impact of small hydropower plants are very pronounced in the ecosystem of the 25 rivers included in that list."

The environmentalist says that the rejection of applications for the construction of new hydroelectric power plants, the restrictions on water intake, along with other complex measures, should have contributed to the restoration of the ecosystem of these rivers over time. But the decision remained valid for only 2 years.

She also stressed out the developments around Dzoraget, which is included in the same list, in which case the court forced the ministry to grant a water use permit to a small hydropower plant.

"There is a huge attack on rivers and mines, on our natural resources, in general. After all, we must understand: of course, we should exploit natural resources, but moderately. If that natural resource is overexploited, then you will have neither a natural resource nor an environment. One should not have a short-term mindset when it comes to natural resources. One should have a long-term vision when using natural resources, not advance the interests of a few people," Inga Zarafyan noted.


April 25, 2023 at 09:56