In 2012, Sotq Community in Gegharkounik Region approved Sotq gold mining re-equipment project: the community gave 1047 ha of land area for rent to “GeoProMining Gold” Company developing Sotq mine. In 2016, Sotq community received 68 million AMD for the land areas leased by the company, nevertheless, in 2017 this money was allotted to Geghamasar community which Sotq community joined as a result of optimization. Geghamasar community includes 18 communities including Sotq. “Before the optimization, this amount allowed to develop Sotq community and to solve social problems. After the optimization, the budgets of 18 communities have been joined and it is equally distributed among the communities. Wherever there is a more urgent problem, we prioritize this community. Now Sotq residents are complaining why this 68 million AMD is not given to their community only,” Geghamasar Community Head Hakob Avetyan said during his meeting with EcoLur’s team within the frames of “Mining-Impacted Communities – Full Participants in EITI Process” project. Battle for 68 Million AMD To Join Sotq According to Community Head, many other communities adjacent to Sotq were struggling to have Sotq joined them before the optimization. “Everyone is fighting for this 68 million AMD,” he said and added that the social programs implemented by “GeoProMining Gold” Company are carried out only in Sotq. “This year we are planning to provide heading to the buildings of the school, kindergarten and event hall in Sotq community,” the community head said. According to Community Advisor Davit Shahnazaryan, this year 150 million AMD has been allotted for the construction of Sotq irrigation network under the governmental grant. “This is our largest project: this year projects under governmental grants accounted to 320 million AMD, out of which over 150 million AMD is carried out in Sotq. We are implementing projects in 11 communities, but half of the money has been allotted to Sotq. We do understand that the leased land area is owned by Sotq and we are trying to have most projects carried out in Sotq. Nevertheless, one of the reasons for optimization is to ensure proportionate development of communities,” Shahnazaryan noted. We were also informed by Community Municipality that in the summer of 2018 “GeoProMining Gold” Company carried out free-of-charge medical checkup in Sotq community, afterwards some patients were sent to different hospitals in Yerevan. Impacted community should be only Sotq and not the entire community Member of “Martuni Women's Community Council” NGO Yeghiazar Davtyan actively acting in Gegharounik Region told EcoLur when speaking about directing 68 million AMD to the common budget after the optimization with Geghamasar, “To what extent the money will be directed to Sotq community, whether or not problems will be solved? Instead of Geghamasar community, only Sotq residential area of Geghamasar community shall be considered as impacted.”
This article is made possible by the generous support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.
17:22 April 30, 2019