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Perspectives of Sustainable Development of Hydropower Industry in Armenia: Discussion

Economic and environmental programs department of the OSCE Office in Yerevan initiated an event entitled prospects of sustainable development of hydropower sector in Armenia, which was attended by representatives of almost all the sections dealing with the field. It was held at the American University of Armenia on February 20.
Ambassador A. Sorokin, head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan welcomed the guests and said that the OSCE is touching security and cooperation issues in all aspects, including the right to have a favorable environment. In the field of ecology priority is given to the implementation of the Aarhus Convention, as it is coordinating the rights on the natural resources,the carrier of the concept “green economy”
and gives the local residents legal guarantees on access to resources.
The latter noted that the issue of access to natural resources over the centuries has been the cornerstone of state and society, both in terms of philosophy, quoting the Russian painter, philosopher, writer and publicist Nikolai Roerich belief. “The profits derived from the use of resources should be directed to education, health care needs and improving the quality of life.”
Mr. A. Papyan, First Deputy Minister of the Environment of RA, A. Bakhshyan, Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration, A.Galstyan, Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources welcoming the initiative, talked about the importance of the development of hydropower industry and the vulnerable aspects of the field: the need for legislative reform, the need to improve the monitoring and control, discrepancies between designs and reality.
Mr. D. Stepanyan, head of Renewable Energy Division of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of the RA presented that the 28% of electricity production of 7 billion 710 million kW / h produced in the Republic in 2013, have ensured the hydropower resources, as the field is developing at a very fast pace.
Ms. L. Asoyan, coordinator of Gavar Aarhus Center through expressive images and facts presented the “revenge upon the nature” as a result of SHPP construction process, how ecosystems are being destroyed, and how passage for the fish as described in the draft are being replaced by narrow pipes and how the damage caused to the nature is not recovered even in case of suspension of the SHPPs illegal construction.
Ms. L. Asoyan’s report was criticized by the state officials, particularly by A. Bakhshyan, representative of the MTA because it was contained an accusatory tone.
A. Bakshyan in his turn accused the general public, as opposed to Norway, where the Salmon is a subject of veneration we cannot properly assess river trout’s value and flavor.
The participants were shocked by the statement of N. Nahapetyan, head of SHPP’s Association that the HPPs are absolutely do not harm the nature. Even the scientifically based arguments of the independent expert S. Minasyan did no persuade him the opposite.
M. Khachatryan, member of the Pan-Armenian Environmental Front voiced that the wrong strategy chosen for development of this sector by the RA government and the shaped short-sighted policy, as well as the massive construction and uncontrolled exploitation of the SHPPs raised many ecological and social problems, conflicts were emerged between the different layers of public. Substantiating the above arguments, representatives of the Pan-Armenian Environmental Front brought forward concrete proposals to solve the problems refer to the SHPPs.
Refusing to comment on the environmental issue, Mr. A.Gabrielyan, expert of the “Khazer” NGO raised a civil question literally on the following way. “Nevertheless the long and still ongoing stagnation I am happy to note that our society, especially the youth, shows signs of awakening. Therefore I would like to raise another civil issue and to hear opinions and comments.
The OSCE’s Ambassador expressed an important idea in his speech, that; “The law must ensure the safety of not only nature, but also spiritual environment, which includes justice.”
Although the Ambassador is not present anyway I’ll ask my question to invite the attention of those presents: The owner initiated the SHPP construction and operation is covering the all costs, and then bringing the money back through electricity sales, plus profit, during the 15 years established under the License. Conditionally accept that there is no fraud in the meantime.
On the other hand, the energy consumer covers all these expenditures (loan returning with its percentages, construction and operation costs, profits, etc.) through its contributions. A question is arising: why after all these the SHPP’s owner is still the owner of the object. Have not the consumers, that is, the residents actually bought that object? Whether is it fair? Of course, it does not only refer to energy and SHPPs. Whether this is due to the fact that there is taking place consequent polarization of the financial capital and the population alienation from the country and nature? “.
There was another question voiced, as why the threshold upper limit of the SHPP was raised from 15 megawatts to 30 megawatts and how many SHPPs were included in that list.
Other issues also were raised, which were not responded due to the lack of time. An agreement was reached to make each of them as a matter for the professional discussion in order to find solutions.
Mary Chakryan
PR manager of the Armenian Aarhus Centers
Tell:. 010 551364
E-mail: aarhusnews@gmail.com