In the extraordinary session of the National Assembly of RA on July 11, the bill for taking an additional 70 million cubic meters of water from Lake Sevan was adopted in the first reading with 64 votes in favor and 20 against. As a result, up to 240 million cubic meters of water will be released from the lake in 2023 instead of 170 million cubic meters stipulated by law. The "Armenia" faction voted against the bill.
Vache Terteryan, RA Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures, noted that Lake Sevan Preservation Expert Committee of NAS RA issued a negative conclusion on the project. "The committee did not agree with our arguments and issued a negative conclusion."
According to Vache Terteryan, the additional water intake is determined by the year's weather conditions, the filling of water basins and reservoirs, and the indicators of the rivers' water flow. The surface of the lands made up about 31.3 thousand hectares, and the demand for irrigation water will be about 445.3 million cubic meters. It was calculated that the water deficit will be 121.4 million cubic meters. It is planned to take about 51.4 million cubic meters as a result of additional mechanical water production, and up to 70 million cubic meters from Lake Sevan.
Artsvik Minasyan, Secretary of "Armenia" faction, cited RA law "On amending the law "On approving the annual and complex programs of activities for the restoration, preservation, reproduction and use of the Lake Sevan ecosystem" adopted in 2019, according to which the maximum annual amount of water releases from Lake Sevan was set up to 170 million cubic meters, excluding water intake exceeding this amount in case of negative balance of Lake Sevan.
"The political majority adopted that law in 2019. At that time, you proudly announced that from now on, the additional release of water will be prohibited in Sevan, if the balance of Sevan is negative. The balance of Sevan is negative, it is 1900.56 m, it is negative by 15 cm compared to the same period last year. The law strictly forbids bringing such a draft law," Artsvik Minasyan said. Vache Terteryan responded that the level of Lake Sevan rose by 13 cm after May.
"May to June are the intermediate data. The negative balance is calculated when comparing the given period with the same period of the previous year," Artsvik Minasyan responded back.
Artsvik Minasyan cited the second part of the law adopted in 2019, according to which the government can submit a temporary plan to the National Assembly to change the amount of water in case of declaring a water shortage or drought in the entire territory of the Republic of Armenia or a part of it. Artsvik Minasyan asked whether there are such programs, to which the deputy minister said that instructions have been given to prepare such programs.
Artsvik Minasyan mentioned that there is nothing in the bill about declaring a drought or water scarcity in RA. MPs of "Armenia" faction called to vote against the bill. MPs of "Civil Agreement" faction mentioned that the villagers should be provided with irrigation water.
July 11, 2023 at 17:14