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Martvili Inhabitants Protests Against Construction of New ‘Geocell’ Mast in Samegrelo

07.04.2006

Martvili Inhabitants Protests Against Construction of New ‘Geocell’ Mast in Samegrelo

The inhabitants of Khuntsa, in the Martvili district of Samegrelo, have been holding non-stop protests, for the past week, against the construction of a ‘Geocell’ cellular network mast in their village. The protestors blocked the main road between Martvili and Tbilisi. They asked the local government for help but were ignored, so they then blocked off the Tskhenistskali Bridge. Martvili police officers attempted to disperse the protestors by force and the protestors claimed that during this operation they were physically abused.

“I cannot tell you my name because, I assure you, not only myself but my family will also be in danger. The police officers even used violence against the women; they threatened us and demanded that we stopped blocking the road. What would you do if your children were at risk?” asked one of the protestors.

Representatives of the ‘Geocell’ company promised to rebuild and renovate both the school building and classrooms, if they stopped the protests. “We were told that the company would allot four thousand laris to implement reconstruction work”, stated the protestors, who wondered; “If my child’s health is in danger what use is there in renovating a school?”

Peoples concerns were heightened because ‘Geocell’ plans to build the tower right in the centre of the village, which is heavily populated. The company could not prove it had the necessary planning permission except for one document it had from the Sanitation Centre. It claims that there is no document that guarantees peoples’ safety.

The Khuntsa inhabitants are sure that the tower emits unfiltered electro magnetic waves, which will put the people at risk.

The inhabitants’ suspicion was raised when the Martvili prosecutor refused to give permission to ‘Geocell’ to erect the tower, due to a lack of sufficient documentation and conclusive evidence.

The protestors also lay blame on both the local government and the media for not spreading this information. “We informed regional correspondents about the protest. However, they never appeared. We have been threatened; dispersed violently; nevertheless, the protest was still not covered. Our problems remain unknown to the majority of the public”. 

Although the protestors plan to meet with MP Pridon Rukhadze today, they still do not think their problems will be solved.

Maya Gubeladze from Zugdidi

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