On 21 April of this year the companies “Alazani Energy” and “Feri” started the construction works of the 5,45 MW “Khadori-3” HPP/ A part of the population of Pankisi Gorge has protested the construction works of the hydropower plant and, confrontation happened in the village Birkiani, between the locals and police officers. The locals started throwing stones to the law enforcement officers and burnt their motor vehicles, while the police, in its part, used the tear gas and rubber bullets. Because of this confrontation in the gorge, 27 individuals, among the 15 policemen and 12 locals, were injured, who were provided by first medical aid. The situation in the Pankisi Gorge was calmed down after the minister of internal affairs of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia appeared there.
The first attempt of start pf the construction works of “Khadori-3” HPP was on June 29 of the last year, but in that time too the works were terminated because of protest of the locals. For note: Two HPPs – “KLhadori-1” and “Khadori-2” are already operating in Pankisi Gorge. Pankisians declare today that they will not permit construction pf a new HPP. The works are terminated now and, as the internal minister says, they will be renewed in case only, if 90% of the locals agree on it.
The issue relates to the hydroelectric plant with the rated capacity of 5,4MW and 27,45 mln. kw/h energy annual generation. It should be noted that if the project is implemented successfully, the investors plan to build the “Samkuratskali HPP-2” too and, in this case, a total investment for these both projects will be over 40 MIO USD, while both these HPPS will generate together 160 mln. kw/h electric energy.
Maia Tskitishvili, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure: “Unfortunately, this project t has arisen controversies from the very beginning. Since hat time over 1 year elapsed and, both the state and the investor are actively involved in communications with the locals. At first, send of 35 policemen was based on the risk analysis, but, we became witnesses of considerably heavy situation. So, the law enforcement bodies should investigate what happened and why. However, it is clear that these series of violations must have a legal reaction”
Nino Chlhobadze, leader of the “Green Movement”: “Pankisi Gorge is a very small area and, no matter what is a capacity of HPP, because it may be a risk-carrier in any case. If the territory is not studied, no data exist regarding a possible damage that may be caused to the area and, when it is not clear what a compensation the locals will receive, in such a case, the protest by side of population is understandable. The opinion of people should be at the top place in case of any construction”
“In case of a small HPP, the river will be completely re-directed into the pipes, that will cause its dewatering and ecological catastrophe”
What are the problems the local may face in the area where the HPP is planned to be built? –We asked Sopiko Sokhadze – the ecology expert, to explain the situation:
– The government says a small HPP will be built in Pankisi. But, we have examples that most of the small HPPs, when a river is redirected into the pipes, losses water. One of such examples is the HPP with only 1,0 MW power in Dariali Gorge. This HPP turned the wonderful area into a poor one. The similar situation exists in the upper part of the r. Alazani. In case of a small HPP, river is completely scoped into the pipes that causes dewatering and ecological catastrophe. Ministry of energy says that “Khadorui-3” HPP that is planned to build in the village Birkiani” is a “Green HPP”, depended on the water flow. However, the statistical data show that in case of the hydropower plants oerating on incoming flow, the water is disappeared at all, the ecosystem is destroyed, while the natural balance – violated.
Because of construction of the small HPPs in the western Georgia the ground waters level lowered to such a rate that it caused dewatering of the large areas. It is pity that the construction of each HPP is considered as a particular case and not in general. Services of the environmental protection must also be involved in decision-making on such problems. The legal framework is not in conformity with the relevant UN concept, which is perfectly arranged
“There were the opponents of HPP in Pankisi Gorge, but, nobody expected for such tension of the situation”.
Did the relevant authorities have negotiations with the locals in Pankisi Gorge regarding construction of the HPP? – Shorena Khangoshvili from the village Duisi speaks about this issue:
-, I attended on several meetings organized concerning the HP construction issues. Representatives of the building company and governmental officials were also participating. The investor submitted a set of conditions supporting the development of Pankisi Gorge, which, for a majority of local attendees was acceptable. For example, we agreed on re-location of the high-voltage transmission lines. settlement of the water supply problem, enhancement of the sphere of education. These are the issues which were problems of locals during tens of years. According to the project, such objects should be created here, and locals will be hired mainly. Unemployment is an acute problem in Pankisi./drain of locals is high, most of the youth have already left their homes . On this background, it is acceptable of course, if the youth has a job here . It is true some of locals were against the HPP, but, nobody expected for such tension of the situation”.
“I have an impression that the events developed in Pankisi were directed against Gakharia”
What are the threats the country is facing and, how the locals a were so aggressive. – This is a theme discussed with us by Gulbaaz Rtskhiladze – Director of “Eurasian Institute”
-, What the projects were planned, with whom they have met, who was for or against – all this is not interesting at all and, I do not trust to the statements made by this or that person. I trust to what I saw. An irrelevant aggression was demonstrated by Pankisians and, this was not caused by commencement of the HPP construction. This was caused by appearance of the policemen and special operation forces group at that site. They (the locals) are irritated because of alive attribution of the State of Georgia
Wahhabization of population of Pankisi Gorge and radicalization of Islam have create a feeling to them that they are not within the space of the Georgian statehood, so they do not want to obey the Georgian laws, they are a part of Islamic mythic Khalifate and respect the Sharia laws. This is the main problem of Pankisians and not an issue whether the HPP is built there or not .
All saw he footage, how surprising was the internal minister of Georgia when asking to the locals: Did you throw stones to the policemen for this 5MW HPP? I want to say just the same. Aggression of Pankisians was not caused by the HPP
-, What the government can do?” As a matter of fact, Pankisi becomes uncontrolled, the locals are threatening permanently . . .
– The government musty change approach to the problem, we musty speak on another “language’ with Svans and differently with Pankisians
Population of Pankisi becomes stranger, that is a result of Islamization factor If you paid attention, what one girl said when the locals attacked the policemen? After throwing many stones, she shouted: “We were helping you in fight with Russians”. First of all, they did not help us, vice versa – created difficulties, and the second – They do not consider Georgia as their homeland and, do not think about their obligations before the country
-, Aggression of Pankisians is not good, but, do not you think that there was a provocation too, because someone in Company decided to start the HPP construction works just on that Palm Sunday celebration morning?
-, Yes, it was really strange and probably this was planned against Giorgi Gakharia, somebody called the internal forces led the internal minister into mistake and then, it was internal minister, not a foreign minister, forced to settle the situation in a diplomatic manner. I have a feeling that Gakharia played a role of diplomat. Besides, I think the Pankisi events in that morning were directed against Gakharia
– In case of Lapankuri operation, 13 Pankisians were killed, but even in that time the locals were not such aggressive . . .
– I say the same. Everything that happened in Pankisi on 21 April, was excessive aggression caused by ineffectiveness of the government. Several months passed since they put a tent in front of the Parliament building and it became Machallikashvili’s place. The country becomes uncontrolled. What does the EU flag mean in the tent if Machallikashvili is mourning his son there?
Georgia is not a State any more
The incident happened in Pankisi, was at a certain extent, a result of spread of disinformation, I think. I am also against unjustified construction of HPPs, because investors do not here local people to work there, electricity becomes expensive, a profit goes into someone’s pocket and, we must recognize that environment is also annihilated, and that the country and the people have no profit of it. This is a robbery, a colonization of the country . Instead f speaking about “Enguri HPP”, “Khudoni HPP”, energy independence, instead of saying why we supply the electricity to Abkhazia free-of-charge, our officials say silly things . We say Abkhazia is occupied, and give there electricity free. Why? Is it our present to them?
One more thing about Pankisi: Vilalges ion Georgia are empty. But, do you know how many youth is in Pankisi. Overcrowded. Not because they have Disc Clubs and spend good time. No, they have money and their stay there is necessary. An international Wahabists movement is in Pankisi, that, maybe was introduced yesterday under the umbrella of “Islamic State”, but will obtain another shape tomorrow. Georgian government mist foresee it
By Eka Naskidashvili