The Media Center hosted press conference over violations regarding eminent domain featured the issues of residents of buildings at 23, 25 Teryan Str. and 37 Lalayants Str. The speakers included: Vardan Geravetyan, resident, member of the Our City Initiative; Sedrak Baghdasaryan, head of the Victims of State Needs NGO; Vardan Gabrielyan, resident, artist; and Flora Udumyan, resident, teacher.
Vardan Gabrielyan said residents have ventured into a new stage of struggle. “Twenty-two owners are struggling and no one is willing to give way his flat. We are getting more active day by day. Tomorrow, on March 5, we will be holding an open meeting with media to let them know the real situation. We are going to protect ourselves, without surrendering an inch,” the Our City Initiative member said.
The constructor stated residents will be relocated to the new building but Geravetyan told the Media Center neither the compensation nor the flats satisfy residents.
“We are forced out of our ancestors’ houses, away from the downtown. The proposed 800 US dollars per one square meter can hardly be considered an adequate compensation. As for the flats in the new building, they cannot even be compared with the ones we live in. The height in these flats is 2.70 meters without the final decoration. After the flooring and reconstruction of the ceiling it will become 2.60, smaller as compared with the 3.30 meters of our flats,” Geravetyan said, adding the residents are not even told what is planned to be built in the place of their houses.
Flora Udumyan told the journalists about the letter she got from the Compulsory Enforcement Service. “We get letters from the Compulsory Enforcement Service stating that they have filed a lawsuit to alienate the flats. Eminent domain is an evil for us. The compensation is ridiculous and offensive. You are deprived of your flat in your own country,” she said and described the situation as “being hostages of eminent domain.”
Following an eight-year-long talk over thirty families, Vardan Gabrielyan said, gave way and agreed upon the proposed compensation. Twenty-two families, however, have chosen to continue their struggle.
Gabrielyan said the group of residents intends to write a letter to the parliamentary factions. “We, thus, want to warn and draw MPs’ attention to the danger the downtown is subject to. Nearly 2000-2500 buildings are located rather conveniently. In the future they may also be categorized under the concept of eminent domain and demolished,” he said.
Armenian adopted the law on eminent domain in 2007 and it reads a land may be considered eminent domain only for seven years.
The buildings at 23, 25 Teryan Str. and 37 Lalayants Str. were condemned in 2007. “Yet the houses have not been taken so far. The constructor has failed to fulfill its obligations and, anyhow, the Government has delegated the land to Local Developers for the third time,” Baghdasaryan said.
450 people have found themselves “in a shameful state” due to exclusive eminent domain, he added. “The laws are written in Armenia and broken not by common people but the Government which does not take care its citizens’ rights are protected.”
The speakers proposed the constructor to start bilateral talks. “Their projects may be carried out without demolishing our houses. We can find an architect who will draft a project without destroying the buildings,” Vardan Gabrielyan suggested.
Arshaluys Mghdesyan, Editor-Coordinator