Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili today spoke in the defense of constructing new hydropower plants in the country, in the wake of the massive rally in western city of Kutaisi against nearby Namakhvani HPP last week. Georgia shall build one plant of at least 100-megawatt capacity each year to meet increased demand in energy consumption, the PM stressed.
PM Garibashvili argued in the Government meeting that hydropower plants are necessary for Georgia’s energy security and independence, and noted that the Government should step up its communication efforts in support of the water-energy projects, by talking directly to the protesting locals.
The Prime Minister tasked Economy Minister Natia Turnava and Environment Minister Levan Davitashvili to visit tomorrow the Namakhvani HPP construction site to “hear out the concerns” of the protesters who have been taking shifts for more than 130 days to obstruct the construction process.
Kutaisi-based media quoted Varlam Goletiani, local activist leading the protest movement against the controversial Namakhvani HPP project, as pledging to guarantee peaceful meeting with the ministers from their side. He said, however, the protesters are taking uncompromising stance against the Namakhvani powerplant.
“But we should [nevertheless] agree on a dialogue format, that will include other people as well,” Goletiani went on, adding that “if there is a mini HPP project [instead], that will not damage the nature and take our interests into account, this could be a topic of discussion.”
Concerns Against Namakhvani HPP
Those against the Namakhvani HPP list a number of concerns, noting that the lack of proper communication with the locals is not the primary problem with the controversial construction.
Citing a leaked contract between the state and the private investor, the Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) argued yesterday that the Government’s insurance commitments in the project will be a “heavy” burden on the state budget, while the company “is not obligated to deliver the produced energy to the domestic market.” The watchdog said this rebuffs the Government and the investors’ claims that the HPP will contribute to Georgia’s energy security.
The activists against the Namakhvani HPP are also citing its potentially devastating environmental impact, handing “collective property” to a foreign investor, seismic and landslide risks, as well as threats it poses to harvesting local notorious wines.
About the project
The Government of Georgia awarded the Istanbul-based engineering company ENKA and Norway’s Clean Energy Group the right to develop, construct, own and operate the Namakhvani HPP Cascade in the Imereti and Lechkhumi provinces of Western Georgia in 2019.
The Namakhvani project encompasses two separate HPPs of 333 MW and 100 MW on the Rioni River. The government hopes to enhance its energy security and to employ up to 1,600 Georgians with the “foreign direct investment in the amount of USD 800 million.”
- Massive Rally Held in Kutaisi Against Namakhvani HPP
- Locals, Police Clash Again over HPP Construction in Imereti
- Protests Against Namakhvani HPP Continue Despite Police Dispersal