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Residents of Kvishkheti struggle amid construction project

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Tuesday, May 20
The village of Kvishkheti in the municipality of Khashuri is on the verge of a possible eco-disaster. The construction of railway road, which started in 2011 created problems for almost all families living nearby.

The project is supposed to end in a couple of years, but after the government of Georgia changed in 2012, a decision was made to add one more lane, thus, the date may change again.

The length of the railway tunnel must be 18 kilometers.

The Chinese Railway Bureau is carrying out the construction, while the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia is the customer.

Doniko Skhirtladze, a resident of Khvishkheti, said this was a resort zone, at least until 2011 and the main income for the local population was tourists.

“Now everything is in dust, no one wants to stay here. I can understand it, the air used to have a curing effects, but now if experts tell us that it is toxic, I will not be surprised,” Skhirtladze said, adding that the local population has addressed the municipality for help for many times but in vain.

People demand alternative dwellings, but almost all of them insist on staying in Khvishkheti.

Bichiko Gomareli is a lonely old man, whose house is not suitable for habitation. “My house is almost completely ruined. It is impossible to stay here. I moved to a neighbor’s house and am paying a fee from my own pension,” Gomareli stated.

The Chinese side refused to comment on the issue. However, the main engineer Laubros Karagforgos said that after population’s complains they invited an expert who studied the situation and his conclusion proved that the work only affects a 15 meter radius.

“The houses are old itself and our work cannot be blamed for this. We already paid compensation to people who were affected by the explosions and we will do it again if there will be any others, but for now there are no houses damaged by us, some people just want to use the situation for their own good,” Karagforgos said.

Locals stated they if no one will pay attention to their problems they simply will boycott the upcoming elections.

“The number of local inhabitants is about 700, but households are approximately 1,600. We all will stand by each other and boycott the elections,” Zaira Latsabidze stated.