"In 2014 all the families that were left without homes in Shirak after the disastrous earthquake will be provided with apartments"
“It will be possible to provide all the families that were left without homes in Shirak after the disastrous earthquake will be provided with apartments only in 2014”, promised Albert Margaryan, head of the Urban Development Department of Shirak Regional Administration during the debate entitled “The Earthquake: 25 Years After” organized on December 12.

“20,600 apartments in Gyumri collapsed as a result of the earthquake and had to be dismantled. The same quantity of apartments has been built,” said Margaryan. However, there are still 430 families in Gyumri which are classified as beneficiaries but have not received apartments yet. Margaryan clarified that it’s not the city population that has increased but the fact that family members have begun living separately.

In this respect Levon Aslanyan, adviser to Lori Governor, “feels envious” of Gyumri. He mentioned that in contrast to Gyumri they still have a hospital problem. However, this is not the case with respect to schools. “Today there are no schools in Lori that function in a domicks, while there used to be 173 such schools”, said Aslanyan.

According to Aslanyan, the housing facilities in Vanadzor were restored very intensively during 1989-1995. Today only one residential building with 16 apartments is to be built in Vanadzor which will resolve the issue of housing the families who lost their apartments in multi-apartment buildings. This problem in Spitak will be solved in 2014.

Meanwhile, Aslanyan noted that no construction works were done in rural communities of Lori region during 1995-2005. In 2013 only 32 residential buildings were handed over for commissioning in the region. “The construction pace of 2009-2010 cannot compare with that of 2012-2013. We are extremely displeased with the construction works held in 2013”, stated Levon Aslanyan.

Vahan Tumasyan, Shirak Center NGO President, is not optimistic on the issue. He is sure that following the earthquake people continued to suffer and die in domics and dismantled dormitories. Tumasyan remembers with regret that the amount of money spent on the construction of the Northern Avenue in Yerevan was larger than the reconstruction of the whole disaster zone would have required.

Yevgenya Atayan, head of the Department of Housing Policy and Communal Infrastructure of the Ministry of Urban Development, argued this statement saying that the Northern Avenue has been built through private financial assets, without state funding.

It was with regret that Atayan spoke about the fact that 20 years after the earthquake new reconstruction projects for the disaster zone should be developed. Subsequently, a new 85 billion drams project was launched in 2008.

Iosif Palyan, Associate Professor, PhD of Technical Sciencies, founder of spitakseism.info website, reminded that after the earthquake he had insisted not to dismantle the standing buildings. However, lots of standing buildings were torn down, which caused immense damage to the city.

“If a building held up at a 9 scale earthquake, it cannot be dangerous; simply it is necessary to constantly check that building. There were many 5-storey buildings that stood up in Akhuryan: however, those buildings were dimolished as 60 thousand rubles would have been paid for each building. The buildings were dismantled by soldiers,” said Iosif Palyan.

According to Atayan, based on the different decisions of the government residential buildings with 3770 apartments have so far been built enabling 382 families to improve their housing conditions. Currently, construction of residential buildings with1295 apartments is underway. Completion of the project is expected in 2014,.

“Don’t you think Gyumri inhabitants are also to blame for thid situation when they still live in domicks? Gyumri inhabitants seem to be clinging to their cabins. When it comes to privatization, the obligatory condition of which is to dismantle the domick, the latter turns out to be a stone-built construction. Afterwards they register it for some relative to keep it. There are  are numerous such cases,” stated Yevgenya Atayan.

Vahan Tumasyan noted that 3,500 families living in metal cabins/domics are not included in the list of people without homes as they preferred to enter into a deal with the state by taking less money knowing that they would not receive an apartment anyway. Only 1000 such families are included in that waiting list.

Tumasyan claimed that 4500 families still live in such conditions. Moreover, in Gyumri there are still 3700 metal cabins where 3300 families live. 1000 families live in factory dormitories where conditions are worse than in temporary houses.

“Those temporary settlements can be defined as hell on Earth. You can find ill, disabled children in every second house who have contracted those diseases because of the unbearable housing conditions. Children living in these temporary settlements are in most cases granted draft exemption as they have all kinds of diseases”, said Shirak Center NGO President.

On December 12, the Media Center initiated a debate entitled “Earthquake: 25 Years After”, which was aired live online at A1+. The debate panelists included: Levon Aslanyan, Adviser to Lori Governor; Albert Margaryan, Head of the Urban Development Department of Shirak Regional Administration; Yevgenya Atayan, Head of the Department of Housing Policy and Communal Infrastructure of the Ministry of Urban Development; Vahan Tumasyan, Shirak Center NGO President; and Iosif Palyan, Associate Professor, PhD of Technical Sciences, Founder of spitakseism.info website. 

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