27 representatives of the Kapan community society, Syunik Region, have sent a negative opinion to RA Nature Protection Ministry on the project of oil and gas exploration in the 6th conditional area submitted by 'AGAPE' LLC. The opinion says:
' 'AGAPE' LLC has attempted to organize public hearings in Kapan several times: three times in 2018 – on 22 May, 14 September and 2 November, but the hearings were not held as a result of the complaints of the civil society.
On 11 December 2018, 'AGAPE' LLC and Kapan Municipality declared that the second public hearings of the project were held, while the same day the representatives of the civil society expressed their disagreement with the project and boycotted these hearings and don't consider them to be held.
The representatives of Kapan community society, having signed under this letter, are against the oil and gas exploration by 'AGAPE' LLC for the following reasons:
· Kapan and Meghri are those regions, which include specifically protected areas of nature of around 80,000 ha having different conservation regimes combines in Zangezour Biosphere Complex. The company doesn't specify exactly in which areas the samples will be taken from. It is not excluded that the examinations will be carried out in the areas of specifically protected areas of nature. The project says that there are field trips planned in Kapan Town and 38 villages a part of which have already suffered and extremely polluted because of the activities of the regional mining companies. Development of new mines is not only unacceptable for us but also it refers to any field trip, which will result in increasing the high level of air, soil, and water intoxication.
· The villages selected for exploration, including Tsav, Nerqin Hand, Shikahogh etc, are the buffer zones of Zangezour Biosphere Complex by their nature or are specifically protected areas of nature. Currently, German KfW Bank has provided a large amount of money for the alternative development of the impacted communities of Zangezour Biosphere Complex so as to ensure the conservation regime of the specifically protected areas of nature, while 'AGAPE' LLC consider the same areas as areas for oil and gas exploration.
· No proper assessment has been carried out to find out its economic impact on such spheres as agriculture and tourism.
· Deterioration of ecological state condition with the probable operation of oil and gas mines, which may cause a decrease in other economic spheres such as agriculture, tourism, employment and may cause emigration.
· Health problems caused by mining in Armenia are not considered as a component of the EIA.
We hope the negative opinion of Kapan civil society representatives will be taken into consideration during the expert assessment of the EIA of the project submitted by 'AGAPE'LLC and the project will be issued a negative opinion.'
14:45 December 21, 2018