A few days ago deputy governor of Kotayk province visited the budget structures in Garni village operating under the jurisdiction of the regional administration (schools, community centers) and urged their employees to give positive feedback about the construction project that envisages water transfer from Azat river to a number of villages in Ararat province. Meanwhile, most of the locals are opposed to the project and organize occasional protests against its implementation.
Speaking to Epress.am, Arusyak Ayvazyan, a Garni villager and a participant of the protest actions, said that two days ago Kotayk governor Karapet Guloyan also came to visit the villagers without prior notice: “I wasn't here [when Guloyan came], but I was told that the governor had expressed incredulity that Garni residents had ‘dared to knock an official out.’ He also said, ‘Who is [Armenian National Congress MP Nikol] Pashinyan to come to our province, who are the media? We'll take care of our problems ourselves.' Such was the general tone of the conversation.”
The woman added that Guloyan has also expressed a desire to see her: “I received a call from the village administration and was told that [the governor] wanted to talk to me. I replied that I had nothing to say to him because he did not realize the seriousness of the issue. Yesterday, the governor went to other neighbourhoods and promised the people he would take care of the irrigation and drinking water issues.”
Recall, according to the project presented by the Armenian hydropower project representatives, a pipe measuring 820 cm in diameter is to be built along the length of the river, which will transport water for two months in the summer to several villages in Ararat province. Garni residents, however, say that the flow of the river is powerful only in the spring, while in the summer, the river carries only 1,200 liters of water per second. The project, if implemented, will lead to the river drying up, which, in turn, will lead to the trees growing on the mountains around the river drying up and to the fish in the river dying.
On April 13, the residents of the village of Garni blocked the main road leading out of the village to demand an “immediate halt” to the construction works. The villagers unblocked the road after about eight hours, when officials agreed to remove construction equipment from the Azat River gorge. The villagers are convinced that the main intention behind the construction of the pipes is to provide Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan’s businesses with irrigation water.