Planning a new, modern landfill in Adjara is one of the components of a broader project envisaging the improvement of solid waste management in Adjara. Besides this component, the project envisages: the closure of Batumi and Kobuleti landfills and remediation of the sites after closure; development of solid municipal waste collection and transportation system; and creation of a new waste management company, which will operate a new landfill. The project cost is Euro 7 million with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) having allocated Euro 4 million as a grant and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) – Euro 3 million as a credit.
Since the project’s key component was planning of a new sanitary landfill, environmental impact assessment of the project was oriented just to this issue. During 2008-2009 the project consultants conducted environmental and social impact assessment and as a result the territory adjacent to Chakvi settlement (32ha) was selected as the preferential site for the new landfill. This site borders with Chakvi, Khali and Chaisubani settlements and is in a kilometer away from the Black Sea coast.
The site selected for the new landfill was the most problematic issue related to the new Adjara landfill project. The project consultants were claiming that six alternative sites were selected at the stage of project planning and environmental and social impact assessment. According to them, comprehensive assessment was conducted on the selected sites as a result of which the preferential site was selected – the territory adjacent to Chakvi settlement. As it was revealed later in the process of analyzing the project-related documents, the project consultants, while selecting the six possible sites, did not conduct additional researches and relied on previously conducted research, which was imperfect in itself. Chakvi residents were opposing the construction of a new landfill site near their homes; they had the following arguments:
The existence of a landfill near the settlement would have a negative impact on the incomes of local population, for whom leisure and tourism-oriented business is the key source of income. The population explained that the immediate proximity of a landfill would make the nearby settlements unattractive for tourists and holidaymakers;
The existence of a landfill would also have a negative impact on the price of real estate located on the adjacent areas that would significantly aggravate the economic status of the population;
Construction and operation of a landfill will trigger negative consequences for human health and environment. The Chakvi residents believed that there were no guarantees that the project would be implemented properly, the landfill would be managed properly and negative consequences would be avoided.
Along with other problems related to the construction of the new landfill, the following issues were also being discussed: (1) the project envisaged collection and flaring of gasses (methane and carbon dioxide) emitted as a result of landfill operation – the project consultants were not discussing the possibility of converting gasses into electricity; (2) the project did not envisage the promotion of introducing modern waste management methods along with the construction of the new landfill; and (3) the project impact on waste collection service tariffs was not studied and respectively, no measures were developed to mitigate the project impact on socially vulnerable groups.
Later, one more problematic issue emerged – it was decided to implement a new project in Adjara, particularly, Adjara Bypass Road Construction Project. The project is financed by the Asian Development Bank. According to this project, the bypass road should run in 30-35 meters away from the planned sanitary landfill in Chakvi. The problem is that the cumulative impacts of these two projects (landfill and bypass road) on the population and environment had not been studied. Respectively, no preventive and/or mitigation measures had been determined.
Advocacy campaign and its results
From the very beginning Green Alternative was monitoring the project development process, analyzing publicly available or otherwise obtained project-related information. It conducted a number of field visits to the project site and held meetings with the project-affected communities in order to inform them about the planned project, to identify their concerns and acquaint them with those means/mechanisms, which would enable them to protect their own rights and interests. The project proponents and consultants did not try their best to ensure that the project-affected communities had sufficient information and possibility to express their opinions about the project. During 2008-2009 the effective participation of the project-affected communities in public hearings in Adjara was made possible only as a result of the public information campaign launched by Green Alternative.
Furthermore, Green Alternative was sparing no efforts to ensure that the project developer, its consultants, donor organizations, permit issuing agency and top decision-makers were informed about the above mentioned problems in order to take them into consideration while working and making a decision on the project. A number of meetings were held; comments on various versions of project documentation were prepared and sent to the relevant persons; statements and position documents were disseminated; articles were published and various stories were broadcasted on local and national televisions. In October 2009 Green Alternative and 1078 residents of Chakvi applied to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, with the help of Green Alternative, demanding their involvement in the administrative proceedings on making a permit issuance decision.
As a result of the advocacy campaign, all problematic issues pushed by Green Alternative were taken into consideration at the later stages of the project development, except for one, which also triggered the local population’s deep concern – the landfill site. Currently, the situation looks as follows: the project developer has not yet applied to the Ministry of Environmental Protection for receiving an environmental permit. Respectively, Green Alternative and the Chakvi community are waiting for the launch of administrative proceeding at the Ministry of Environmental Protection in order to raise the issue of changing the planned landfill site again.
 In July 2009 the Chakvi population sent a joint letter to the President and the Parliamentary Chairman of Georgia expressing their negative attitude towards the construction of a new landfill on the territory adjacent to their residential places.