The Aldermen’s Council in Yelpin Community, Vayots Dzor Region, banned the rural administration head to sign an agreement with “Argamik” Company on holding geological prospecting in the community territory. On 28 August the Aldermen’s Council’s decision was announced at the general meeting of the village with the participation of “Argamik” Company administration and geologists, local administration representatives and EcoLur working group (see the photo report).
This confrontation started about one month ago when Yelpin residents found out heavy machinery in their territory. In reply to their demand to present the documents, “Argamik” Company representatives showed the copy of a license numbered 03А 081319 dated on 05.09.2008 signed by RA Energy Minister Armen Movsisyan. The license lays down the name, “Argamik”, and registration place of the company – Mkhchyan Village, Ararat Region, and type of permitted activity – prospecting and mapping of copper and molybdenum manifestations in Yelpin Village.
The villagers’ speeches were extremely abrupt: “the company’s actions are illegal…, if they came for prospecting, it means further development, and you already know we don’t agree…that will be an end for our village, we won’t leave… you are to leave.”
The biggest objection refers to the fact uranium was earlier prospected in the village and residents are afraid drilling may touch uranium demonstrations nearby.
Another objection is the risk in regard with the water used by the village. Geologists who worked in the village in the 60-70’s were living in the villagers’ housed and according to some elderly villagers, geologists warned them not to use water from a certain spring. Why this water is considered dangerous, nobody knows, as nobody dealt with the problem of probable risks for many years. Nevertheless, residents followed this advice and use another spring which will get unavailable, if the territory will be developed, and villagers will be deprived of water.
Historical monuments, cross stones and burial places are located in the territory where the heave machinery is now situated. In the same place you can find a unique grove of dwarf (Arctic) birches, animal and plant species registered in the Red Book, as well as a game preserve. The Aldermen’s Council is drawing up an application addressed to the Government of Armenia on granting this territory a status of specially protected territory.
All the objections laid down in the decision by the Aldermen’s Council have legal substantiation as well. Thus, this license holder’s restrictions particularly lay down works cannot be conducted without a written agreement, if the territory has an owner. In this particular case the owner is Yelpin Community.
When EcoLur asked Head of Agriculture and Nature Protection Department of Regional Administration Babken Mkrtchyan to comment this present situation he said he had arrived to observe how legitimate parties’ demands are. He expressed his belief Yelpin residents have legal demands.
August 31, 2010