Open Letter on Excluding Argitchi SHPP from Project List Submitted for KfW Funding

Open Letter on Excluding Argitchi SHPP from Project List Submitted for KfW Funding

EcoLur

To the attention of Dr.  Ulrich Schröder, the Chairman of the IDFC and CEO of the KfW Group,

Mr. Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety

Mrs. Zara Chatinyan, Country Representative at KfW Office Yerevan

Argitchi SHPP is in the list of SHPP projects of German-Armenian Fund submitted for funding to German KfW Development Bank. We would like to draw the attention of KfW that Argitchi SHPP is constructed illegally. The opinion of the environmental expertise on Argitchi SHPP is expired and lost its legal force. The project was issued the opinion of “Environmental Expertise” SNCO on 04.06.2006, i.e. eight years before the construction. While Article 11 (4) of RA Law “On Environmental Impact Expert Assessment” says, “The expert opinion loses its force, if the implementation of planned activities doesn’t start within a year after issuing the expert opinion, afterwards a new expert opinion is required.” Article 12 of the same law says, “The implementation of the planned activities subject to environmental impact expert assessment is banned without a positive expert opinion.” As it’s known, Argitchi SHPP doesn’t have any new expert opinion, as EcoLur’s letter, N 5/23.8.07/52963, addressed to Nature Protection Ministry says, “… “Argitchi SHPP” project was issued a positive environmental expert assessment on 04.06.2006.”

The new project hasn’t been submitted for the new expertise and statutory public hearings on the project haven’t been carried out and expert opinions haven’t been issued. The assessment by State Scientific-Expert Committee on Lake Sevan Preservation is a mandatory opinion.

The ministry letter also says, “The Gegharkounik Region Territorial Division of State Environmental Inspection has carried out examinations and detected that the construction process complies with the original project.”

Nevertheless, the State Environmental Inspection should have fixed the fact the project has no environmental expert opinion and to draw up an act on violating RA law, and not to issue an opinion on the construction compliance to the original project, as it is not included in the functions of the inspection. The Inspection ignored its immediate obligations and undertook the functions of another body, that of “Environmental Expertise” SNCO, which, as a matter of fact, was confirmed by the official reply of Nature Protection Ministry to EcoLur.

Besides violating RA Law “On Environmental Impact Expert Assessment”, the construction of Argitchi SHPP also violates RA Law “On Lake Sevan”.

The Argitchi River is an immediate impact zone of Lake Sevan, and in line with Article 8 of RA Law “On Lake Sevan”, “Immediate impact zone includes Lake Sevan basin up to watershed. Any activities which would directly or indirectly affect on Lake Sevan, hydrophysical, hydrochemical, hydrobiological, sanitary-technological, hygienic and other qualitative and quantitative indicators of the rivers, flowing into Lake Sevan, is banned.”

The Argitchi River is a spawning site for endemic fish species for the conservation and recovery of populations and for this purpose the state budget of Armenia annually allots around 70 million AMD equivalent to US $ 170,000, i.e. Argitchi SHPP causes essential damage to Lake Sevan ecosystem thus violating Article 11 of RA Law “On Lake Sevan”, which says that the priority of biodiversity should be adhered to. Damage is also caused to the state budget and state program “Annual and complex measures on the recovery, preservation, reproduction and natural development and usage of Lake Sevan ecosystem.”

We think that Nature Protection Ministry as represented by State Environmental Inspection, “Sevan” National Park and Agency on Natural Resources Management demonstrated inactions and ignored its functions by not detecting the violations of the environmental legislation and not drawing up a proper act and not defining punishment measures for the committed offences.

We think that the detected violations can serve as basis for Argitchi SHPP to be crossed out from the list of business entities, which may be granted “green” loans from KfW, as the operation of SHPP Argitchi is illegal and cases essential damage to Lake Sevan ecosystem.

15:45 October 21, 2013


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