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Part of the Georgian non-governmental organizations addressed to the Prime-Minister of Georgia, the President of the Asian Development Bank, and the President of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development in an official letter to bring to their attention concerns related to North-South Corridor Kvesheti-Kobi road section. 

The project which intends to better connect the Caucasus to Russia and is planned to be constructed within the unique Khada Valley of Georgia is supported by the Georgian government and International Financial Institutions.

Along with the organizations, local communities from Khada Valley also protest the project and demand the alternatives to Khada to be considered when constructing the road. Having collected signatures against the projects,the locals also addressed the Prime-Minister and the IFIs. 

"The project implementation started despite the fact that local and national risks regarding to the project have not been properly studied, while public participation was a mere formality. The project threats create a danger to the unique environment and cultural heritage of the Khada Gorge, and the well-being of the local population,"  write the non-governmental organizations in their letter. 

"The main goal of the project is to enhance transportation and transit between the countries of the South Caucasus and Russia, which is also problematic due to the country's security concept," the letter also reads. 

 

Read the full letter: 

To the Prime-Minister of Georgia 

The President of Asian Development Bank

The President of European Bank of Reconstruction and Development 

Dear Sirs,

The undersigned organizations would like to bring to your attention concerns related to North-South Corridor, KobiKvesheti road section, supported by the Georgian government and International Financial Institutions. The project implementation started, despite the fact that local and national risks regarding to the project have not been properly studied, while public participation been a mere formality. The project threats create a danger to the unique environment and cultural heritage of the Khada Gorge, and the well-being of the local population. 

The construction of 23-kilometer of road section would cost 560 Million USD, where from 475 Million USD would be the loan from ADB and EBRD to the Government of Georgia. The 23-kilometer road construction includes five tunnels, in total 11.4 km, with the longest one of 9km and 6 bridges, all 2 km, including huge 426m long and 166m high arched bridge. The nine kilometers long Khada valley represents an integral part of the Greater Caucasus Biodiversity Hotspot and such construction will cause irreversible changes in habitats and landscapes, alpine and subalpine ecosystems, water regimes, and endanger the existence of historic villages and cultural heritage. 

The road will cross Kazbegi National Park and affect bird watching areas, in parallel, with changes of the habitats and increased pollution, it will support to reduction of numerous species listed in the Red Book and spread the invasive species. The project does not assess sufficiently existing the geological and seismological risks of the area, including those characteristic for Khadistskali, Narvani and Milliona valleys: landslides, mudslides, avalanches, etc., their impacts on the proposed road is not assessed. 

Furthermore, these risks may increase due to the accelerated climate change process. It’s problematic, that planned tunnels locates in a proximity of volcanic zones, as nine km tunnel will lay 800 meters below the ground, without relevant assessment how it would impact magmatic processes and vice versa. 

Local people openly acknowledge the insufficient public participation in the decision-making process, as well as the pressure from the Roads Department to agree to proposed inadequate compensation. At the same time, the state deprived the right of the locals to register traditionally owned lands. The main concern of the local population was and remains the inaccessibility the central road, especially during the winter months. The project hasn’t offerd anything to the local people to solve this problem. Meanwhile, the project will have a significant negative impacts on local residents through deteriorating of livelihood (air and water pollution, groundwater change, noise and visual pollution) and reduced incomes (forced economic resettlement, reduced agricultural production, etc.) 

The Khada valley, also called the place of 60 towers, which is inhabited since the Neolithic Age, is known for its culturalhistorical heritage and artifacts. In the valley, were towers being used for as an integrated military outpost, there is also numerous scattered religious buildings and epigraphic monuments. The assessment of documentation proves that the project impact on cultural heritage, including impacts on architectural and archaeological sites, as well as mitigation measures are practically unexplored, while the road goes in vicinity (50-100 meters) of important sites and settlements. 

The project implementation will adversely impact the recreational and cultural destination of the Khada valley. It will also oppose of development of ecotourism in a region, as tourists visiting the Khada for bird watching. The project`s output as mitigation measure – establishing a Visitor Center, can at best be perceived as cynicism, rather than an actual event. In order to develop tourism in the valley, it is essential to maintain the Khada valley primarily and to build small infrastructure that responds to the needs of the locals and preserves the valley's biodiversity and cultural heritage.

The main goal of the project is to enhance transportation and transit between the countries of the South Caucasus and Russia, which is also problematic due to the country's security concept. However, unfortunately, the project does not include cost-benefit analysis for the country, both in terms of land transport development and its impact on the country's fiscal parameters. 

Based on the above, the undersigned organizations request that the Government of Georgia and international financial institutions: 

 Find another, optimal alternative in the north-south corridor with adequate public participation, what would eliminate the threat of destruction of the Khada valley and its population; 

 Select that alternative which will have minimal impact on cultural and archaeological sites, local populations and biodiversity;

 Due to the geological risks in the region, it is essential to conduct in-depth geological and seismic studies that examine not only the project's environmental impacts, but also vice versa. 

 Explore and present project cost-benefit analysis for public, taking into account the concept of country security. Signatory organizations: Society for Nature Conservation (SABUKO) Association Green Alternative National Trust of Georgia Public Art Platform Georgian Incoming Tour Operators Association Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) Blue Shield Georgia 

 

Signatory organizations:

Society for Nature Conservation (SABUKO) 

Association Green Alternative 

National Trust of Georgia 

Public Art Platform 

Georgian Incoming Tour Operators Association 

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association 

Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) 

Blue Shield Georgia