“Construction of Garni Water Pipeline was Suspended: Further Developments”
“The World Bank has funded a project to improve irrigation system and has given a credit of $ 30 million. However, the Government of Armenia decided that the irrigation program of Kaghtsrashen should be fulfilled by these means, and not the World Bank. So, it is RA government to cancel it,” Levon Galstyan, Pan-Armenian Environmental Front member, said during the discussion on “Construction of Garni Water Pipeline was Suspended: Further Developments” at Media Center.

Media Center wondered if Hovik Abrahamyan's oral assurances are sufficient, journalist, Garni inhabitant Sara Petrosyan said, “Our requirement was abrupt, and we consider it fulfilled as the Prime Minister announced about the suspension. There is a bilateral agreement with the World Bank's lending program, now, the Government has announced about the suspension unilaterally and bilateral official statement about the termination of the program is likely to be associated with the documentation stage,” the speaker said. 

Garni inhabitant, active participant of demonstrations against the water pipeline Arusyak Ayvazyan said, “ I have no doubt that they understood that we are resolute in our decision. Probably, they will not go through other ways for the realization of this project. Anyway, we will not allow carrying out their dirty work by all costs. It is a matter of life and death.” 
Levon Galstyan spoke about the issue that the Government did not officially announced about the suspension of the project. “The will and activities of Garni inhabitants are basis for considering that the suspension was a final decision. If the person who is the Prime Minister orally tells the people about the suspension and then refuses, it is not acceptable in their own world.”

As a repy to Media Center's remark that Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan stated in Garni that the project is suspended not because of people's revolt, but because of the shortcomings, however different institutions proved the effectivenes of this projects by various calculations and drafts for months, that is to say, it appears that they were trying to fulfill an incomplete project, whether these institutions should be brought to liability, Levon Galstyan said, “ When you apply to the relevant authorities for bringing some people to liability, it is prolonged so much that you do not have time and energy in the end. We have already had such a case when we applied in relation to the activity of the President of the State Water Committee, former Minister of Nature Protection Aram Harutyunyan but it was attached to the other case, and we are waiting for information for a year. Different officials committed crimes in that sphere but continue to serve. And the World Bank is to blame here as it continues to cooperate with the officials who had negative results. The World Bank Yerevan Office should think very seriously and should understand with whom it cooperates,” the speaker said.

As a reply to Media Center's question if the letter of 520 inhabitants of Garni to the World Bank could be decisive for the suspension of the project, Sara Petrosyan said, “In that letter the violations of the project that was credited were described. I cannot say definitely, but I think that when the government knew about these violations, it understood that the World Bank is unlikely to be tolerant.”

Head of “Ecolur” NGO Inga Zarafyan emphasized that the issue is not only environmental but there is also the issue of violation of one of the important human rights – water right. “I do not know why our right to water was taken out of the RA Constitution. It is an inviolable human right worldwide but it is nowhere stipulated in our state, how can we consider ourselves a normal country? That right was in the Declaration of Independence, have we started condoning this declaration?”

As for the concern that by the suspension of the irrigation project of Kaghtsrashen the interests of 12 communities which had water needs were discarded, the environmentalist said,“ Rather than take a community water and give to another, we need to build new reservoirs and develop alternative solar energy in order the communities do not use water for such a great price. We should build new reservoirs, as water is already scarce in the country, which is a serious security problem.”

Sara Petrosyan assured that if in case of the implementation of the project, water of the Azat river would be enough only for two irrigation districts, where tens of hectares of land belong to high-ranking officials. “When I met with the Prime Minister I said that he has 120 ha of land in Narek village, the Minister of Finance Gagik Khachatryan and Deputy Minister of Agriculture Samvel Galstyan have lands, the Prime Minister has 80 hectares of land in Kaghtsrashen village. There will be enough water for these two villages. It turns out that Armenia took the credit to irrigate the gardens of the officials,” the speaker said.

Arevik Sahakyan, Program coordinator at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to areviksahakyan@mail.ru

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