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Protest against high voltage power lines

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, May 12
Police detained six people for disobedience in the eastern mountainous Pasanauri area on May 10 when locals were protesting the construction of high-voltage power line towers above several villages.

The 500 megawatt power lines will initially serve the population of Georgia, and then connect Georgia, Russia, Armenia and Iran, the Energy Ministry and a construction company say.

The works have been launched by the Energotrans Company.

Energotrans Ltd was founded in 2002, and since its foundation, 100% of the company’s equity interest has been owned by the Georgian state.

Locals say the lines would be above their houses and will lead to health problems for them and their children, starting that leukaemia and other forms of cancer will become inherent risks.

They also say the company plans to cut trees for the construction work, which will cause landslides and also damage their holy places, cemeteries and real estate.

They do not exclude the possibility of some villages becoming entirely empty.

The lines are planned to be over the villages of Oshpiteli, Khando, Chartali, Muguda and Knondis Khevi.

Locals claim that Energotrans has no geological permission to carry out their work.

The company admits such geological document is being drafted and they won’t act against the interests of local population.

However, the company tractors have already arrived at the scene and are preparing the area for construction work to begin.

Deputy Energy Minister Ilia Eloshvili claims the protest was a provocation and staged by NGOs.

He said that Georgia's NGOs have always stood against energy-related projects.

The local governor arrived at the rally, where he was not welcomed by the protestors.

They accused him of “cheating” the central government about the locals’ view over the power lines.

“He, without presenting any of our signatures or having our consent, told the Energy Ministry officials that we were not against the power lines,” the locals told the media.

They vowed they would continue their rallies.