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Road Reconstruction Will Cause Eviction of Hundreds of Families

16.09.2009
Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti

Hundreds of families in Sagarejo and Telavi districts might be evicted. The rehabilitation project of the Vaziani-Gomobori-Telavi motor-way aims to repair the road and it means the road will also be widened. Local residents do not have information about the plans of the project at all.

Vaziani-Gombori-Telavi motor-way starts at the Vaziani Settlement in Tbilisi and runs through the villages of Ujarma, Paldo, Otaraant Kari, Sasadilo, Gombori, Kobadze, Tetritsklebi and ends in Telavi.

Last week, president of Georgia opened the 10-kilometer-long road. According to the Road Department of Georgia, “Mtkvari Ltd” carried out the rehabilitation activities. The department reported that the repair-works of the second part will start soon.

According to the Reporting and Environmental Policies of the World Bank complete consultations shall be carried out before similar projects start. These negotiations shall last for 120 days after the document is published. Victimized people and civil society shall have access to the documents as well as to the assessment of the project influence on the environment. Currently, information document of the project and other related documents, among them the assessment of the influence on the environment, are not available on the websites of the World Bank and Road Department of Georgia. Discussion of the project influence on the environment did not happen in the local governmental agencies, or in Sagarejo and Telavi district administrations. Consequently, populations of the villages who will be impacted by the reconstruction activities do not have information about the project. We interviewed 80 people in the villages of Ujarma, Gombori and Sasadilo about the project but none of them had information about it. They just know that the road will be repaired and local people will be employed in the project.

Approximate prices of the properties that shall be reimbursed are indicated in the project. According to the project, 4 000 GEL is estimated price for a building regardless its purpose and space with its fence. 240 GEL will be paid for one fruit-tree whatever it is. Association “Green Alternative”, which published the notes and comments of the observers from Central and Western Europe Banks on the rehabilitation project of the Vaziani-Gombori-Telavi motor-way. They think envisaged compensations cannot be considered relevant to the properties in the area. “It relies on the decision of project implementer and does not envisage the income of property-owners,” said Irakli Macharashvili, expert of the Association.

Association “Green Alternative” visited the villages of Ujarma, Paldo, Gombori and others. “During our second visit in Ujarma people told us the village representative to the municipality board tried to influence local residents whose houses are located in the zone where the rehabilitated road will run. The locals said the local official warned those families if they start complaining about the rehabilitation activities they might remain without compensation at all,” stated the report of the Green Alternative.

Experts do not deny that the rehabilitation project of the Vaziani-Gombori-Telavi motor-way is very important project but they think it shall comply with the policy and procedures of the World Bank. “Action plan of the eviction shall be worked out and it shall comply with the requirements of the World Bank in order to make the mechanisms more clear and acceptable. Besides that, other alternative roads shall be discussed as well. For example, part of the Ujarma residents thinks the road can run beyond the village. The most acceptable alternative is not to widen the road and just reconstruct it. In this case, eviction of the residents will not happen; compensations will not be necessary and consequently, the total budget of the project will also be reduced. Besides that, cars cannot drive at a high speed in the inhabited area. Thus, widening of the road will not bring any profit; furthermore, the abovementioned alternative methods will increase safety of the road,” said Macharashvili.

It must be pointed out that rehabilitation project of Vaziani-Gombori-Telavi road does not aim to employee local people. However, president of Georgia stated several times during his visits in Kakheti that local people will be employed in the project. However, the employment of the local residents is not mentioned in the project at all.

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