Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said today that the government is against continuing the Namakhvani Hydropower Plant project under existing terms, including 99-year-long land possession, and use by the investor.
The Prime Minister noted that they are currently in talks with the investor to modify the much-criticized contractual conditions, expressing hopes to persuade the company on new terms that will be in “the best interests of our people, including those against the Namakhvani HPP.”
Asserting that he is working actively on the issue, PM Garibashvili pointed out that he “inherited the problem,” referring to his predecessor Giorgi Gakharia.
Varlam Goletiani, leader of the protest against the project, warned today that a mere change of 99-year-long land lease condition with a 49-year lease, for instance, would not be seen as a remedy to the problem. He also accused the Prime Minister and Economy Minister of making contradictory statements about the investor agreement.
In one of the latest developments, a Justice Ministry report was leaked to the media, containing multiple critical remarks about the state contract with the investor.
Activists, locals, and CSOs against the project cite among others contractual conditions that allow the investor to confiscate private property and utilize natural resources, and extensive right to seek the government compensation for damages, and devastating environmental impacts as some of their key concerns. Project supporters, including the Government and investor, on the other hand, cite USD 800 million foreign investment that will enhance Georgian energy security, and the employment of hundreds of Georgians in the project as some of the benefits.
The protests against the construction of the HPP in western Georgia’s Rioni Valley have continued for more than seven months, ranging from setting up tents around the project’s construction site to holding massive rallies in Kutaisi and Tbilisi, the capital.
The Namakhvani HPP project encompasses two separate HPPs of 333 MW and 100 MW on the Rioni River. The project is being carried out by Enka Renewables. 90% of the company’s shares belong to the Turkish ENKA Insaat ve Sanayi A.S and 10% to the Norwegian Clean Energy Group.
Follow our Namakhvani tag for earlier developments about the controversial project.