55 people, including 38 police officers and 17 civilians were injured during a clash in the Muslim-populated Pankisi Gorge, where the locals opposed to construction of a small hydropower plant (HPP).
“Peri” ltd was supposed to start construction of the 5.4 MW “Khadori-3” small HPP on April 22, but the local population firmly opposed.
The protest grew into a serious clash between the civilians and law enforcers, who were mobilized “to ensure security and order” around the construction site.
“Certain part of local citizens opposed law enforcers. Police equipment was damaged, law enforcers and civilians were injured”, the Interior Ministry said.
Investigation is underway to reveal the violators.
Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia was among the ministers who visited Pankisi Gorge and met with the local population.
The minister said after the meeting that although the construction works had been suspended for now, those who had violated the law would be strictly punished.
“We have postponed construction of HPP and agreed that it will only be built if 90% of the population supports the idea”, Minister Gakharia said.
He also underscored that the company responsible for the construction works would continue negotiating with the locals.
The Government Administration released a special statement concerning the developments. Prime Minister’s office stressed the country’s “energy independence and energy security is among the government’s main priorities” and that interests of local population should also be considered.
The administration said “Peri” ltd was carrying out construction works of Khadori-3 and planned to construct yet another small HPP in the region. However, both HPPs are “small and green” hydropower pants, which will not affect ecology, but rather contribute to the local economy.
The statement also reads that apart from HPP construction, the company took responsibility to improve road and energy infrastructure in the region as well as to implement other social projects that would be beneficial for the locals of Pankisi Gorge. (Agenda/Business World Magazine)