Namakhvani village in the western Imereti region saw today yet another row between the police and local activists as protesters opposing a large-scale hydropower plant project tried to prevent the equipment from entering the construction site.
Today’s skirmishes follow yesterday’s clash when locals confronted the police over the road blockage. According to the reports by the local activists, the police partly blocked the road in Gumati village, Tskaltubo municipality, several km’s away from the HPP site, allowing the passage to everyone but the protesters. The activists responded by entirely blocking the road, eventually resulting in a row with the police.
Enka Renewables, the Turkish company in charge of the HPP project, released a statement afterwards saying restrictions on movement were part of precautionary measures during “preparatory works” for the tunnel construction. The company has apologized for the inconvenience.
The Namakhvani HPP construction works have resumed a month ago, defying the protests, as the locals have been voicing concerns that explosions carried out as part of the project activities heavily damage the landscape.
The protests against the HPP project in Imereti and Racha-Lechkhumi regions have been unfolding for over four months now as activists are taking turns in tents near the construction site in an attempt to stop the project.
The demands include Enka Renewables to leave the Rioni gorge, as well as to annul government orders granting ownership rights and construction licenses on the territory. The locals also demand the cross that was removed from the soil near the construction site to be returned to its place.
The activists have announced another rally to take place on February 28 in Opurchkheti village, Tskaltubo municipality, near the Enka office.
Read more here about the controversial project’s background and previous developments.