Complaint to PCM of the EBRD on the Nenskra Hydropower Plant project

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development approved the Nenskra HPP1 and the Nenskta HPP Portage2 projects in January 2018 with planned investment of USD 214 and USD 15 million respectively. Nenskra HPP is a 280 MW hydropower plant project on the Nenskra and Nakra rivers of Mestia Municipality in Georgia. Nenskra HPP represents one of 35 power plants planned to be constructed in Upper Svaneti. The project is being implemented by the State Partnership Fund and the Korean State company K-water.

On October 2, 2015 the Ministry of Economy of Georgia issued a permit to JSC Nenskra Hydro to construct the 280 MW Nenskra HPP project with the following technical parameters: 135 meter high and 870-meter-long rockfill dam with a reservoir area of around 400 hectares (182 mln cubic meters) on the Nenskra River and a 13-meter-high dam on the Nakra River in order to divert the Nakra River flow to the Nenskra Reservoir.

Before the lenders group became involved in the Project in early 2015, the 2015 ESIA was completed and the public meetings were conducted in accordance with Georgian requirements. The lender group found that the consultation processes conducted until then were insufficient and asked the client to undertake more intensive and meaningful consultations while additional ESIA studies were being carried out.

An Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the Nenskra HPP project was prepared for the lenders and published on the EBRD’s website in March 20173. The supplemental package includes substantially modified technical parameters of the project -Namely, the height and length of the Nenskra River dam decreased to 130 meters and 820 meters, while the dam type changed to rock-filled with asphalt face, with total reservoir area 267 ha. Technical parameters for the Nakra River derivation dam were changed from 13 to 8.7 meters in length, while the diameter of the derivation tunnel was reduced from 4.5 to 3.5 meters.

Following public consultations with many unanswered questions and concerns voiced by local impacted people, and due to continued requests for additional information and greater guarantees for the safety and livelihoods of Svans, an up-dated Environmental and Social Package (E&S Package) was provided by the company and announced by lenders in November 20174. This updated E&S Package was available only in English language and, in spite of our requests, it was not provided in Georgian language to those directly affected by the project and additional formal consultations were not carried out before the dates for approval by the EBRD Board were announced for December 2017 and then January 2018. It should be stressed, that both March 2018 as well as November 2018 ESIAs.

Therefore, we request from the PCM to start a Compliance Review of the Nenskra HPP project in the anticipation of the following:

1. The PCM should assign recognized and independent Indigenous Peoples experts and Indigenous peoples organizations, like the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), to l review the compliance of the EBRD with its policy commitments, as well as review EBRD’s Indigenous Peoples PR coherence with relevant international law and good practice, including Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ILO Convention 169 and EU policy approach to Indigenous Peoples.

2. The EBRD should trigger PR 7 for the Nenskra HPP project by acknowledging Svans’ self-identification and requests to be treated as Indigenous Peoples. 

3. The EBRD should request from the Republic of Georgia conducting an appropriate alternative analysis for the Nenskra HPP project, which should be accompanied by meaningful consultations based on the special measures, such as Free Prior Informed Consent, in line with the international law protecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

4. The EBRD should require a new ESIA, should address all relevant environmental, social, gender and economic issues, taking into due account the feedback from affected communities. EBRD should commission an independent review of the new ESIA coming from project vast impact over Svan communities and citizens of Georgia.

5. If the above cannot be done, the EBRD should withdraw its commitment to the Nenskra HPP project, as it threatens imminent and irreparable harm to local people and the Upper Svaneti region, and it stands in manifest violations of the EBRD’s applicable environmental and social standards.

Complaint on Nenskra HPP in Georgia – 30 May 2018

Eligibility Assessment Report  – September 2018

Processing steps – corently in progress