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Protest against Hydroelectric Power Plants in Svaneti

By Levan Khutsishvili
Wednesday, March 7
On March 4, representatives of all communities of Svaneti region gathered in the center of Mestia. They continue to protest against the construction of the Hydroelectric Power plant. According to the citizens, construction of 35 power plants are planned in Svaneti region and 7 of them will have Dam, as locals say it will destroy unique nature and historical heritage of Svaneti.

“NO to mega hydroelectric power plants! We will not let building of the Mestiachala hydroelectric power plant, as not any other power station, also we are against using the nontraditional methods in gold production. If they will not do researches, will not study possible influences of power plants on nature, if they will not discuss projects with local community, we will not let them implement projects” – stated Nargiz Niguriani, inhabitant of Svaneti region.

At the meeting, citizens of Svaneti region developed a common petition and started collecting signatures in all local communities. According to the petition, local community prohibits all kinds of infrastructural projects, which can damage beautiful and unique nature of Svaneti. In addition, local community prohibits construction hydroelectric power plants and gold production, as it will harm material and non-material cultural and natural heritage of Svaneti, and because of this planned HPP projects, like: Nenskra, Mestiachala, Khudon and around 50 HPP’s in Zemo Svaneti will not be implemented.

Locals say the company misled them, as previous project of Mestiachala HPP was different.

“During the meeting we discussed the project, and HPP had to be smaller, but now you can see that diameter of pipes is 3 meters, instead of promised 1.40 meter. This construction will destroy Svaneti”- stated, Shota Niguriani, inhabitant of Svaneti region.

HPP’s Mestiachala 1 and Mestiachala 2 is planned to start from December 2018, and expected accumulated power is 175 million kWh / h.

Another HPP project that is also protested several times by locals is Nenskra, 280 MW hydroelectric power plant, implemented by "Nenskra Hydro", which was created in 2015 as a result of cooperation between the Korean Water Resources Corporation - K-Water and the "Partnership Fund". Project costs is $ 1.040 billion and 70% of this money will be loans, from Korea Exim Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Investment Bank (EIB), SACE and EBRD.

On January 31, EBRD has approved a $ 214 million loan to "Nenskra Hydro", which is intended for the development and construction of the power plant, as well as the $ 15 million investment in "Nenskra Hydro" equity capital.

According to the agreement, Georgia will buy electricity from company during 36 years before it will become the property of the country, tariff in 2020 will be 8.215 US cents per kilowatt, and the tariff will increase by 3% annually over the next 13 years. It turns out that during the 36 years, Government should pay $ 3.6 billion in total, when the project will cost only $ 1.040 billion.

In addition, project is designed to construct a 130 m high dam on the Nenskra River 176 million/m? volume reservoir will create a 2.7 km? mirror surface area. On the river, Nakra will also be built 8.7 m high and 44.0 m long dam, which will change the direction of water towards the 12.5 km long and 3.5m diameter transit tunnel, which will connect Nenskra Nakra valleys.

HPP projects in Svaneti region will cover large territories, several villages and valleys, for example, Nenskra HPP will affect 80 families, by covering their land with water, non-dwelling buildings, trees, crops and houses of some families.