Saving Trchkan: A group of activists on sit-in protest against construction of HPP near waterfall

Saving Trchkan: A group of activists on sit-in protest against construction of HPP near waterfall

Photolure

Twelve members of the ‘Let’s Preserve the Trchkan Waterfall’ social initiative are on an open-ended sitting strike at the Trchkan waterfall, protesting against the construction of a hydropower plant (HPP) there by the Robshin Company, on the River Chichkhan (On the border of the northern provinces of Shirak and Lori).

According to Minister of Nature Protection of Armenia Aram Harutyunyan, the waterfall naturally runs at 400-500 liters per second speed. Hence the decision was made that only in case of exceeding this amount it will be allowed to take the additional water. Besides, it will not be allowed to run the HPP in summer.

“The restrictions will at the same time give the builder [Robshin Company] an opportunity to continue the construction, otherwise they have credit resources involved, and it is possible that we may face a lawsuit,” Harutyunyan said.

Environmentalists wonder how it is possible to control water use only in case when its speed exceeds 400-500 liters per second.

“Taking into consideration the previous steps taken by the minister and the adopted laws, we state that if we believe the minister’s words, then we will have not a waterfall but rather a tiny brook,” environmentalists say.

On Tuesday, Head of the Heritage Party’s parliamentary faction Stepan Safaryan, speaking about the Trchkan waterfall issue at the National Assembly, said that in the Ministry of Nature Protection, during the first discussions over the Trchkan Waterfall and the HPP, a ministry employee had confessed that in 2004 while providing an expertise conclusion they were not aware of the waterfall’s existence.

“The waterfall was included on the list of protected monuments of nature since 2007, when all the permissions had already been given. This at least proves that the environmental expertise conclusion is, mildly said, incomplete, and there is a need for a new expertise,” Safaryan said.

According to him, the government of Armenia, allowing the construction of the HPP in the territory of the Trchkan waterfall, has violated at least six international conventions and five inter-state laws.

In early afternoon head of the Ecolur environmental NGO Inga Zarafyan told ArmeniaNow that currently a group of environmentalists were discussing the issue with Nature Protection Minister Aram Harutyunyan, and the Ministry’s position would become clear later.