Friday, 15 November

Environmental Activists in Gilan: "We'll tear that building down with our own hands"

There’s a building in the Gilan Section of the Khosrov Forest State Reserve whose status remains in limbo.

In 2007, the Armenian government changed the zoning status of a 118 hectare section of the reserve known as the Gilan section. This allowed for the commercial leasing of the site and the construction of the building in question. At the time, many were concerned that the building was to be used as a restaurant.

Later, the government nullified its earlier decision but the question about what to do with the nearly completed structure remains up in the air.

Khosrov Reserve Director Varantsov Barseghyan wants the building to stand and to be converted into a nature museum.

Barseghyan made his view known to a group of visiting environmental activists and government officials who went to Khosrov to check on another matter; the building of an 8 kilometer road in the reserve.

The activists also voiced their concerns about the now illegal building to First Deputy Environmental Minister Simon Papyan, who had accompanied them to Khosrov.

The 188 hectare section had been leased to a company called Hovazadzor Ltd. The company claimed that the site would be used to conduct a project seeking to preserve the flora and fauna and to study ways to utilize natural resources in a sustainable manner.

The activists complained that at the time the public was not included in the decision-making process regarding the rezoning of the reserve. Most called for the building to be removed since it was a cement eyesore.

Director Barseghyan suggested that the building could be used for positive aims.

A government created committee to look into the matter has yet to publish its opinion on what should be done.

First Deputy Minister Papyan told the activists that one alternate was to compensate the builder of the structure and to use the building for another purpose.

The young environmental activists balked at this suggestion and argued that the official who signed the original rezoning permit should be responsible for any compensation.

Director Barseghyan responded that the construction debris resulting from dismantling the building would create an even larger problem and that the structure should remain.

“If need be, we’ll tear it down with our own hands and load the debris into the dump trucks,” said activist Yeghia Nersisyan. 

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