Land expropriation is rampant in Svaneti
28 July, 2011
Land expropriation is rampant in Svaneti

Lands are expropriated and rights of honest owners violated in Georgian highland village Mestia after government decided to make it a tourist haunt.  

One cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs. The pet project of Georgian government to develop tourist potential of Georgia goes ahead at the expense of outrageous property right violation of local landowners everywhere government aims to develop tourist zones.

Absence of concrete legal regulations for the protection of citizens’ property rights, mechanisms of respective compensation for the

injured persons, and a uniform state policy on “resettlement” in general, as well as the non-awareness of citizens of their own rights and obligations enables interested parties to breach property rights through improper application or interpretation of law.

To raise awareness of local population and make the land expropriation cases public  Open Society – Georgia Foundation (OSGF) supported  four non-governmental watchdogs including Transparency International – Georgia, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, Georgian Regional Media Association, and the Association Green Alternative to  implemented a project on protection of property right in new tourist zones that was launched in 2011. The first report on violation cases in Ajara, the Black Sea Autonomous Republic of Georgia, was aired in this past April. The second report covering similar problem in Mestia was made public on July 12, 2011.

"Apart from positive effects transforming the territories into tourism zones have had negative effects like sacrificing interests of the local population.  We would like to draw public attention to the infringement of property rights in order to prevent and eradicate such practices.  We would like to propose recommendations to decision-makers to achieve the systemic solution of the question", Keti Khutsishvili, the OSGF Executive Director, said.

Although all the law-breach cases expose almost similar nature Svaneti distinguishes due to its special traditions and landscape.

Svaneti locals own real estate for centuries as the so- called "traditional ownership" and this property in most cases has never been registered. For centuries, the local population has owned property by inheritance and disposed land plots as distributed based on agreements between ancestors. Residents in Mestia have encountered special difficulties in registering traditionally owned land plots (covering approximately 80% of the Mestia district). The two grounds of the legalization of ownership rights prescribed under Georgian legislation - “arbitrary occupation” and “lawful possession” - in most cases, do not conform to the ownership form found in Mestia (and in Svaneti generally) - traditional possession.

However, after presidential declarations that Svaneti is to be transformed into tourist venues land registration cases became active since 2008 however absence of electronic cadastre map and the distance with the center whence from local population had to take professionals for land measuring works  hindered the process.

Irrespective the expenses and difficulties Svaneti population started registration procedures but as the OSGF study showed, registration was hindered by artificial barriers set up by state agencies mostly by public registry branch based in Mestia. It rather misled people from the right track in order to linger the registration process as much as possible. As a result land plots in possession of the local population are being massively dissected and decimated due to various construction works. Citizens are deprived of legal chance to register their ownership rights to land plots their families have possessed for centuries and on which they have no documents required under law for registration purposes. And people whose lands were simply expropriated by alleged investors cannot get any compensation for they cannot back their claims by legal paperwork.

A list of mandatory documents to be submitted for the land registration purposes is in fact absent in mountainous regions, as a respective data base had never existed there. The high fees fixed under the legislation for land registration procedures and specificity of land possession considerably hinder the process of lands registration. For example registration of one land plot up to 500 sq.m costs minimum GEL152 which is a quite large sum for the local population with low income. Besides families in Mestia usually possess 3-4 or more land plots [like hay and pasture fields, as well as lands for ploughing and gardening] scattered in different places which increases costs for the law demands registration of all land parcels separately.

Investors connected with the top governmental officials and their relatives take an advantage out of the legal gap and embezzle property in fact.

Infrastructural projects like airport, ski-run, cable-way, hotels designed and implemented in Mestia have been mostly carried out on expropriated land plots. No compensation was disbursed to abused people because they simply lack the legal papers on their property right. For instance, as a result of the construction of Hatsvali skiing complex, at least 20 families are unable to register land in ownership and get compensations.

The Mestia Public Registry practices kind of “selective justice”. On the one hand it imposes restrictions on a so-called “forbidden” registration zone that based on all legal norms subdue to registration of their traditional owners. On the other hand it registers parcels the “forbidden” zone for privileged people like a son of Kandid Kvitsiani MP, who built a hotel on the questioned plot.

Georgian NGOs hail government to make registration rules simpler and available in Svaneti and involve local population of decision-making process of the underway tourist infrastructure development project.

Print
Other Stories
The World Digital Mining Summit to be held in Georgia
The summit is scheduled to take place between 21st-23rd September in the Hualing Hotel, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Galt and Taggart - Tourism Boom Continues in Georgia
Tourism has become one of the key drivers for the Georgian economy. Galt and Taggart has recently published research about the Georgian tourism sector in the first half of 2018.
"The worst dream for Putin is that Russians want to live in Georgia"
This year, visitors to the Adjara region would notice that there is a boom in construction in and around Batumi.
Underground gas storage facility to be built in Georgia
KfW, a German government-owned development bank signed a EUR 150 million promotional loan with the state-owned Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation (GOGC) for the construction of the first underground gas storage facility in Georgia.
New gambling rules for Georgia
Georgian lawmakers are preparing a new draft law relating to online-casinos and gambling that will seek to curb gambling addiction in Georgia.
How expensive is it to visit Georgia?
The Georgian Lari (GEL) is the official currency of Georgia and is the only legal means of payment in the entire territory of Georgia.
Trade with the EU and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) has grown significantly
Trade with the EU and the CIS has grown by 26% and 33.5 % respectively, says GeoStat, the Georgian National Statistics Office.
The unemployment rate decreases in Georgia
The unemployment rate decreased in Georgia by 1,9% and amounted to 12.1% in the 2nd quarter of 2018 compared with the previous quarter,
Memorandum of Understanding to be signed between Georgia and Malaysia
According to the Georgian Ambassador to Malaysia Nikoloz Apkhazava, Georgia plans to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Malaysia.
“Blauenstein Georgia” due to expand in Georgia
“Blauenstein Georgia” is planning to open more shops in Georgia. It is an agriculture company that sells meat products, meat and convenience food.
The amount of Direct Foreign Investment rises in Georgia
According to the information of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the amount of direct foreign investment in Georgia has risen
It’s going to get  harder for foreigners to get residence permit in Georgia
It’s going to get harder for foreigners to get permit of residence in Georgia.
Mziuri Park in Tbilisi to be renovated soon
It was the dream of prominent Georgian writer Nodar Dumbadze that when the original Mziuri park was constructed and opened in 1892 that it should be a park for children,
Winemakers to produce Kvanchkara in its place of origin - Racha
Khvanchakara is a semi-sweet Georgian red wine which originates from Racha, in the western part of Georgia. Kvanchkara is made of two types of grape Mujuretuli and Aleksandrouli.
The level of Georgian wine and Chacha exported has increased
The National Wine Agency of Georgia has recently published statistical information about the level of Georgian wine and Chacha exported between January and July, 2018.
New fire engines to be Manufactured in Georgia
The Acting Head of the Emergency Management Agency Shalva Khutsishvili said that the old Zili fire engines (which were made in the USSR) will be phased out and replaced with new ones, manufactured in Georgia.
Georgia witnesses a record number of tourists
The Georgian National Tourism Administration publishes statistical information about international visits to Georgia.
Canadian businessman plans to build a hotel in Bakhmaro
Canadian businessman Vadim Malishev plans to build a hotel in Bakhmaro resort, Guria, in the western part of Georgia.
Coffee Factory will open in Tbilisi in October
The first coffee factory (which will be located on the Kakheti highway) in Tbilisi will open in October.
Places in Georgia where real estate is the most expensive
The real estate market in Georgia is growing annually. In Tbilisi as well as other regions of Georgia new developments are increasingly taking place.
How much does a vacation cost in Tbilisi?
It is the middle of summer and those who have not yet taken a vacation are looking for an appropriate place for sure!
The price for extreme sports in Georgia
Georgia offers a variety of options to extreme sport lovers.
The number of Georgians who own property abroad increases
The number of foreign properties owned by Georgians is increasing.
How much does Taxi cost in Tbilisi?
Stories how Taxi drivers try to deceive passengers and charge them with more money than they should pay are known for everybody all over the world.
What are the highest paid areas in Georgia
According to the data collected by the National Statistics Office of Georgia in the first quarter of 2018 the highest paid jobs in Georgia are found in the financial and insurance fields.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Exchange Rates
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
20.09.2018
21.09.2018
USD
1
USD
2.6179
2.6193
EUR
1
EUR
3.0606
3.0693
GBP
1
GBP
3.4517
3.4651
RUB
100
RUB
3.9087
3.9538
Other Stories
Recently Toyota rolled out Global Campaign under this slogan that reflects the Olympic and Paralympic Spirit of Encouragement,
A couple from Switzerland combines Swiss tradition and technology with Georgian products. Their cheese is made in the Georgian mountains and sold in local stores and hotels.
It has been more than five years since the residents of Lilo village, near Tbilisi, cannot open their windows.
63 000 GEL was received by the Georgian Agro Export Group which is just a small part of the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agricultural and Rural development.
Georgian entrepreneur Guka Tavberidze, who runs his own business in the UK and does it quite well, has been invited by BBC
The grand opening of 7-star The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi took place in Georgia’s capital on July 31.
DUSHETI, Georgia – The Georgian government and the World Bank will allocate USD 5.6 million (12 million GEL) to fund
A new Georgian clothing brand named Person has emerged in Georgian market.
Georgia is in the midst of an economic maelstrom, Euronews reports.
Situation at Georgia’s mineral water market is interesting: over the last year, the volume of export has grown by 56 percent. According to “GeoStat”, over $114 million worth of mineral water was sold
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.6193
EUR
1
EUR
3.0693
GBP
1
GBP
3.4651
RUB
100
RUB
3.9538