Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria has commented on the protest by residents of the western Georgian village of Shukruti in Chiatura municipality, Imereti region. Since February 17, Shukruti dwellers have been blocking the Shukruti mine in protest against mining activities carried out by Georgian Manganese LLC which, as they claim, significantly damage the environment and their houses.
The Georgian Public Defender stated on March 2 that due to the 24-hour mining activities in the village of 280 families “almost all the houses are damaged, foundations, walls and floors are cracked. Several houses were completely ruined. Plots of agricultural land collapsed at several places and graves are now endangered.”
The population says that as a result of the company’s activities, the environment was polluted, part of the forest was cut down; natural springs and wells went dry; the soil became barren; vine and other perennials died out. They believe that the company does irrationally use natural resources. The current and expected damage endangers the property and healthy environment of the local population,” Lomjaria noted.
She also said that locals protested several times last year too, but in vain, as verbal agreements reached with the company have been repeatedly violated. “This time, the population is not going to stop protesting until the loss suffered by the village is not fully assessed and all the families are not fully compensated for their damaged property,” Lomjaria added.
The Public Defender called on the relevant agencies to use all the resources at their disposal to identify the causes of damage and conduct result-oriented negotiations with the company.
Lomjaria also called on the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development to mediate and personally engage in the negotiations between the Shukruti population and the company “to protect the locals’ rights to property and healthy environment.”
Shukruti residents protested against mining activities in September 2019 and November 2019 as well. Responding to their protests, Georgian Manganese company stated in November that the Shukruti residents’ houses were damaged due to mining activities carried out during the Soviet years, as well as partially because of 1991 April earthquake.