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NGOs Call for Studying Feasibility of Construction of HPPs in Upper Svaneti

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, July 18
Georgia-based 7 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) call on the government to study feasibility of construction of number of Hydro Power Plants (HPPs) in upper Svaneti region, which was hit recently by a heavy flood.

The organizations especially put emphasis on Nenskra HPP Project.

The Tchuberi village of Mestia region was heavily flooded in early July. The houses were destroyed while bridges and the local infrastructure were seriously damaged. Luckily, no casualties have been reported so far as locals and tourists were evacuated on time.

The NGOs allege that the disaster was caused by the HPP construction, adding the statement of the construction company Nenskra Hydro, that the disaster happened far from the construction area, is not true.

“Geologic risks will be further increased as a result of HPP project impacts, as the forest / vegetation cover will be cut in the process of construction, which will create additional landslides and mudflows,” the statement reads.

In addition, the organizations believe the statement of the Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, saying the natural disaster could be caused by the massive cut of trees, is not true either.

“The map prepared by the Global Forest Watch, Forests Monitoring International Online Platform, shows that in this section of the Nenskra Valley in 2000-2017 no forest was cut,” the NGOs claim.

The organizations give several recommendations to the government:

• Study and evaluate geological and hydrological processes on the river Okrili and River Enguri

• Reveal the cause of the natural disaster in Tchuberi

• Invite Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA), which will conduct the expertise of the Nenskra HPP project and will assess the planned constructions of HPPs in the river Enguri basin and their effect on geological processes.

The Nenskra Power Plant, is being built in the Tchuberi village amid harsh protest of locals, who believe that the power plant will encourage natural disasters in the area.

However, the Nenska Hydro, the company standing behind the power plant, dismissed the speculations and said that the disaster took place five kilometers away from the construction site, the company has not conducted any works adding since early 2018.