Shatin Village of Yeghegis optimized community in Vayots Dzor Region is facing serious political and environmental problems. This village with a population of 1800 people doesn't have a community head for already 2 months. Yeghegis optimized community head Arthur Stepanyan is not accepted by the villagers as a leader, so they have locked the door and don't let him enter this building. The village administration building is being watched 24/7. Under the protester residents, Arthur Stepanyan has been selected as community head through a fake procedure with the support of the local rich people.
'When the revolution started in Yerevan, we should have felt it here. It's already two months since we have blocked the village municipality building, but nobody is solving is our problem,' Shatin residents said, 'Now we are demanding Arthur Stepanyan's resignation.'
Based on the complaints, still in early June Territorial Administration and Development Minister Suren Papikyan visited Shatin, but this problem was not solved.
Nowadays the village having no head has been left without water either. Shatin is not involved in the irrigation system; it doesn’t cooperate with the water using company, takes water from the Yeghegis River and its tributaries through the streams. Water conflicts have commenced in Shatin since numerous SHPPs were constructed on the Yeghegis River.
“The river on the map of Armenia should be called as 'Yeghegis – Iron River', as the whole river is pipes..there are four tributaries flowing through our village, but we don't have water for our land areas: at least in the summer they should turn off and give water to the villagers...HPPs are 100% harmful, sanitary standards have been violated, the rivers become completely dry in the summer season, the climate has changed, air humidity percentage has reduced, the river surroundings has got dry, while there is no fish at all...Not only we are in such a situation, but also Arates, Hermon, Yeghegis and Horbategh villages don't have water because of SHPPs...No public discussions have been held: the decision has been made by one person – the village head reached a decision and agreed to the construction of HPPs,' Shatin residents complained to EcoLur.
A Shatin resident said that a drinking water aqueduct construction was launched 10 years ago in the source of the Yeghegis River, where many springs join together, and this water should have been directed to Yeghegnadzor Town. Nevertheless, the construction has remained incomplete. Under htis resident, the construction was stopped for the construction of HPPs in the future.
It should be noted that the results of SHPP monitoring carried out by EcoLur's expert team in 2014-2018 showed that the Yeghegis River and its tributaries Artabuynq, Karakaya, Aysas and Qaraglugh are exposed to high overload because of SHPPs, which form cascades along the whole length of the rivers. 18 SHPPs operate on the Yeghegis River and its tributaries: 3 more SHPPs are in the construction stage, another SHPP is built on the irrigation system taking all the water from the river. This unmeasured overload causes huge problems leading to the water loss in the river, fish elimination, including both endemic and red-listed species, microclimate changes and changes in physical and chemical properties of water. All this, in the long run, may lead to irreversible consequences for the whole ecosystem of the river.
We had a meeting with the director of 'Yegheg HPP' LLC Hrach Vardanyan. This company operates 'Yegheg HPP' located in the administrative area of Shatin. 'After our head section is the irrigation canal of the village. Each year the villagers get together and build a dam so as the water flows through their canal. I made a decision to give irrigation water to the village from my HPP pipeline – 50-60 l/s.'
In his opinion, the irrigation system is poorly managed, the whole water of the river is taken from one river and let out into the other. Our river is in rather a poor state, we can feel the lack of water year by year. When there is a lack of water, there should be a subsidy from the government – water from Kechout reservoir. Sometimes they give subsidy but in little amounts.
The SHPP operates with the projected capacity from 20 February till the end of May. Last year the SHPP didn't work at all for one month, 10 days ago I again suspended its operation and resumed 3-4 days ago. We produce 100-120 kWh, which is a ridiculous figure, but if I don't suspend its operation, Shatin village won't get water. The SHPP environmental flow is 600 l/s, if there is a little amount of water in the river, an antisanitary situation will emerge in the river,' Hrach Vardanyan said. In 2015 EcoLur's expert team made proposals, based on which the SHPP administration made certain changes, including structural ones.
'We have reconstructed the fish passway: we made it linger and the water continuously flows there. We have installed a new 100-kW new Chinese aggregate. It doesn't operate now as there is no water, but in the spring months when we operated, it used less water. We have planted 58 trees over 3 years in the head section though we haven't cut down any tree while laying down the pipelines. We have also planted 32 trees in the station area,' Hrach Vardanyan said and added, 'It is impossible to install a water meter on the river, there is no standard on the amount of environmental flow. We can install one on the pipe, but we can't measure the river water. There is a device with standards, which costs US $25,000. In the past, there were discussions at Nature Protection Ministry on having such devices, but it's senseless for SHPPs, the inspectors should have them.'
SHPP director noted that he supports ecopassportization and he would like to make use of rewarding mechanisms.
19:46 August 14, 2018