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What problems are created for the population by the modernization of the Tbilisi-Rustavi highway?


Natia Gogolashvili

Georgian municipal development foundation is working on the modernization of the Tbilisi – Rustavi highway. The project aims to modernize the Tbilisi-Rustavi highway. The project was funded by the Asian Development Bank. 

Inhabitants of the Rustavi Highway building # 16a/b applied to Human Rights Center for legal aid; they said the ongoing works significantly damage their building. The locals said about 12 meters away behind their building the Rustavi-Tbilisi highway is being constructed, which may have alarming impact on their houses. Their building was constructed in 1968 and nowadays all exploitation terms have expired; the walls have cracks and according to the law the building must be demolished.

The territory around the Rustavi Highway Building # 16a/b belongs to Krtsanisi municipality of Tbilisi. As locals said 90 families, 374 individuals, live in it; 24 families have disability status – they are blind.

“Our residential building has corrosion and apartment extensions; if they construct the highway, there is high risk that the extensions will collapse. The construction has been underway for a long time. In fact, they have finalized first and third parts and only the second part is left, where residential buildings are located. They cleaned the Mtkvari embankment and after the protest of local population they did not bring heavy equipment here,” Luka Melashvili said.

“If the highway will be constructed here, they will cut trees and noise and dust will bother the locals, that will finally harm their health. Also, since the buildings have corrosion, the families need to open windows frequently and air their flats that will be impossible because of dust and noise. The dust may cause many diseases and finally damage health conditions, life and properties of the people. The applicants acknowledge importance of the highway but they are afraid that side-affects of the new highway will negatively impact their lives. The people claim due to high risk of security, it is necessary to resettle them to a safe place,” HRC lawyer Eka Kobesashvili said.

She added that on May 17, 2016 the population sent petition to the director of the Municipality Development Fund of Georgia Juansher Burtchuladze. On June 21, 2016 they received an answer, where the Fund promised them to continue cooperation with the local population and take their interests into account.

“We many times petitioned the Municipality Development Fund but their answer is vague and belletristic; nothing more. As for the discussion of essential details of the issue, they avoid it. In fact we get fragmented information, that disables us to make conclusions,” Luka Melashvili said.

On May 17, 2016 the locals petitioned the permanent representative of the Asian Development Bank Yesim Elhan-Kayalar. “We petitioned the Bank to suspend the construction activities until our fate is finally cleared up; they immediately reacted to our petition,” Luka Melashvili said.

The report of the respective commission of the Asian Development Bank, which was published on February 13, 2017, states that there is risk of vibration impact and as a result of the vibration the buildings will shake and it will exhilarate collapse of the houses. The report states that the construction harms the population.

The statement of the Municipal Development Fund of Georgia published on November 10, 2017 reads:

“Six groups of affected persons from residents of Ponichala filled two complaints and forwarded to OSPF and the Office of the Compliance Review Panel (OCRP) under SUTIP 3. The complainants alleged that they were not properly consulted about the impact of the Project and the proposed mitigation measures. The CRP found Project out of compliance in six aspects: (i) noise impacts, (ii) vibration impact, (iii) impacts on vulnerable groups, (iv) impacts on water and river ecology, (v) consultations, and (vi) environment categorization of the project. On 30 June 2017, the ADB Board agreed with a remedial action plan to address the grievance under OCRP and to bring the project back to compliance. The first steps in the action plan included studies on noise, vibration and river ecological impacts and targeted consultations. In order to bring the project back into compliance, and in response to the findings of the CRP report, ADB and MDF propose to undertake an integrated approach involving additional studies for noise impact, impact on the river ecology and iterative-targeted consultations at the community level with a particular focus on the vulnerable groups,” the statement of the Municipal Development of Georgia reads.
No other conclusions about the ongoing construction are known. HRC lawyer Eka Kobesashvili said the applicants request financial compensation calculated according to the square meters of their flats instead resettlement from the area.
The lawyer petitioned the Tbilisi City Hall, which forwarded the letter to the Krtsanisi municipality administration. The latter answered: “According to the information of the municipality administration, there is a conclusion which confirms that construction of the Tbilisi-Rustavi highway does not threat the residential building in the Rustavi Highway # 16a/b,” the letter is signed by the municipality governor Levan Japaridze.
Tbilisi-Rustavi highway project is divided in three sub-projects: the first aims to modernize the area between Tbilisi (Gulua Bridge) and Ponitchala settlement (Lower Ponitchala) and to widen two-lane motorway up to six-lane motorway. The second sub-project refers to the modernization of the Ponitchala settlement and it is still under consideration. The third sub-project aims to widen two-lane Ponitchala-Rustavi motorway up to four-lane motorway. 

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