Specialists protest against construction of hydropower station
28 April, 2011
Specialists protest against construction of hydropower station

Government thinks of starting construction of Khudoni hydropower station the next year. According to Georgian PM Gilauri, Khudoni will be built by Indians and will require investment worth of 1 billion. Preliminary estimates show that the electricity generated by this plant will cost around 4 cents, and economic return would be 5%. The aim of the project is to increase electricity export to neighboring countries.
Till today specialists are protesting against Khudoni construction because they are afraid that its construction,

if started, will exacerbate destruction of forests, natural habitats and creatures living in rivers, as well as upstream degradation of river environment caused by flooding of reservoir surroundings. The Government however, downplays these apprehensions and sticks to the plan to build as many as 15 hydropower stations by 2015. Construction of Khudoni HPS has transformed into an Achilles’ heel. It first began on Enguri River in 1979 but was stopped in 1989 owing to political, ecological and seismic risks. Its resumption was confronted by a variety of non-governmental organization and associations in 1990s.
Last spring Ministry of Energy announced that Khudoni HPS would be built by British Indians and that the question was already decided. Deputy Minister Marian Valishvili noted at the time that the construction work would begin in the second half of 2011. Ministry of Energy handed over the construction right to Trans Electric in 2007. It was done via direct selling. In other words, the Government did not hold any tender, competition or auction. According to Valishvili, the Indians entered Khudoni in 2007 and had to fulfill certain conditions.
“Though later it turned out that the Indians violated the conditions and we started procedures to annul documentation initially agreed with this investor,” Miriam Valishvili says. However, when we sent a corresponding notification to the investor, suddenly it fulfilled all terms and conditions. “I do not know if there was a change in management or anything else. What I know is that they met all their pending commitments all at a once. They did everything – from paying money to undertaking other activities,” Valishvili says.
According to one of the conditions, the investor will have to negotiate with locals independently and pay them appropriate compensations. Even though in the past the locals did get certain compensations, there are no documents proving it. Hence, the investor has to do it all over again. This time it is announced that Khudoni HPS will be built by Indians from a different company called Continental Energy.
Despite the feasibility study conducted by Continental Energy, which did not find any threat in the extension of the construction, experts cannot get rid of apprehensions till today. The construction which started decades ago was stopped without any proper conservation work. The HPS is completed by 40%.
Geology experts claim that if the construction is resumed, it would lead to augmented devastation to forests, natural niches and river fauna, as well as degradation of upper river section due to the flooded surroundings. At the stage of construction and building of reservoir, agricultural (pastures, orchards, cultivated plots) and forest soils will perish as an aftermath of both flooding and construction of facilities. This will predominantly happen in the surroundings of Khaishi and several other villages.

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