Statement of NGOs on Construction of "Loriberd" SHPP

Statement of NGOs on Construction of "Loriberd" SHPP

On November 8, 2021, public hearings were held on the construction of "Loriberd" SHPP by "Lorva Amrots" LLC in Kurtan Village, Gyulagarak enlarged community in Lori Region. The previous hearings took place on October 21 in Lori Berd Community.

The hearings were held in an atmosphere of conflict. The villagers demanded from the company to present the risks and dangers that the construction and operation of the HPP may bring, what compensation will be provided for those damages, emphasizing that the residents are not specialists in the field, they need a detailed explanation.

In response, "Gidepinvest" LLC representative Armen Grigoryan responded that the damage will be caused only in the form of a decrease in the amount of water, in order to reduce the risk, they plan to carry out seasonal water intake. In his turn, "Ecogroup" company representative Taron Navasardyan mentioned that they will give the answers to those questions in the EIA application, which is not ready yet. Arthur Minasyan, Director of "Ecogroup" Company, mentioned that the compensation will be continuous. "There are no environmental observations yet, there is no final working project. When everything is finalized, we will present it to you and the Ministry of Environment," he said.

Samvel Hunanyan, Head of “EnergoHekShin” and “Lorva Amrots” LLC, promised to invest $ 40 million in Kurtan community for the implementation of various projects.

Inga Zarafyan, President of "EcoLur" Informational NGO, made a clarification, noting the risks and dangers related to the operation of HPPs, as well as the points of legislative regulation. In particular, she noted that this HPP is presented as a SHPP, but the 26.7 MW capacity should be considered as a medium-capacity HPP, which has greater risks and dangers for the environment. The other problem is that during the operation of SHPPs, 80% of accidents occur on water pipes, which will pass through Stepanavan, Vardablur, Amrak and Loriberd communities, which can damage all of these communities.

Oleg Dulgaryan, President of " Center for Community Mobilization and Support " NGO, addressed a direct question to the company's representatives. "The owner must specify what damage may result from this activity, what are the risks, and how those risks will be neutralized."

Kurtan resident, activist Vahe Khachikyan raised the issue of the participation of village women in the public hearing. "It turns out that here men decide issues that also affect the women of the village," he said.

Some of the participants in the public hearing put pressure on the members of civil society. They started pulling Oleg Dulgaryan, saying. "Who are you? Shut up, you are not from our village, get out, leave this place ... Kurtan residents, if my future should be decided by American grant eaters, if the outsider should decide, non-governmental organizations should speak, then the meeting is in vain… It means that Hoktemberyan residents should come to Kurtan to solve the issue of their crops. This issue should be resolved only in the community."

They also told Inga Zarafyan: "Who are you? We can see you everywhere. If you get a lot of money for it, get out of here, you are destroying the country." Journalists covering the public hearing were also pressurized, claiming that they lacked state thinking. All this was accompanied by shouting and aggressive behavior.

In the current situation, most of the villagers could not express themselves at all.

We, "EcoLur" Informational NGO and "Center for Community Mobilization and Support" NGO, declare:

1. "Loriberd" SHPP can not be built on the Dzoraget River, as according to RA Governmental Resolution 488-N dated on April 8, 2021, Dzoraget is one of the 25 rivers on which the construction of a small HPP is prohibited under this resolution. The Ministry of Environment should generally refuse to examine the SHPP EIA application based on this resolution developed by the Ministry of Environment itself.

2. In case of acute conflict situation and existing pressures, it is impossible to find out the positioning of the population of Kurtan village through the given hearing on whether they are for or against the construction of Loriberd HPP.

3. The residents of Vardablur, Gyulagarak and Amrakits villages warn that they may be more harmed, but do not ask for their opinion, they have not organized a public hearing in their villages, which, given the risks of the project, was mandatory. The residents have also beaten an alarm to the NGOs that they are already facing water shortages, which are deepening year by year amid climate change and a continuing decline in river flow. When Oleg Dulgaryan raised this issue during the public hearing, there was a response that "... Armenia buys electricity from Georgia, and you are talking about water humidity here ...".

4. This project may have a negative impact on the newly developed tourism activity in the villages, which is based on unique landscapes, favorable climatic conditions and historical and cultural heritage.

5. The representatives of the company did not respond to the request of the villagers to present in detail the possible dangers and risks to the environment during the construction and operation of the HPP, their approaches to neutralizing these risks.

6. The residents of the community have a low level of awareness about the legal requirements for the regulation of the hydropower sector.

Considering Resolution 488-N of RA Government dated on April 8, 2021, the low level of public awareness and the conflict-suppressing atmosphere of public hearings, we call to abandon the construction project of "Loriberd" SHPP, to cancel the public hearings held on November 8, 2021 in Kurtan.

"EcoLur" Informational NGO,

President Inga Zarafyan

Contact: [email protected]

"Center for Community Mobilization and Support" NGO,

President Oleg Dulgaryan

Contact: [email protected]

November 10, 2021 at 17:01