Environment, News

Turkey plans to divert water from Tbilisi river

by | Dec 26, 2011

TBILISI, DFWatch – The river which runs through Tbilisi might have its waters levels lowered, because a Turkish power company wants to tap its energy higher up.

The Mtkvari, Georgia’s largest river, may be substantially weakened. This could cause problems not only for Georgians, but also in neighboring Azerbaijan, where it feeds the main drinking water supply the Mingechauri reservoir.

It’s a Turkish member of parliament who is the source for this dramatic news, quoted in the newspaper Rezonansi and confirmed by opposition and government in the Georgian parliament.

According to Rezonansi, a delegation consisting of the district deputy of Ardagani and a member of the Turkey parliament told about the plan last week in the Georgian parliament. The project has the backing of the Turkish government and envisages building hydroelectric power stations at Beshic Haia at the source of the river Mtkvari.

The source lies in the Turkish province of Ardagan. In case a power station cascade is built there, it will mean that some of the river’s water flow will be diverted to the Black Sea through Turkey.

Leader of the Christian Democrat party Giorgi Targamadze confirms this information.

“Such an issue is actively discussed in the Turkish government today and it suggested to us that we worked on this problem together, because this deputy himself is from the Ardagani district. We agreed that at least in the first stage we will exchange detailed information, and at the same time I plan to send the MP question to the government of what information they have and if they do not have any, they should get interested of this issue and what stage the discussions are in. We also have an active contact with our embassy in Istanbul,” Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Christian Democrats says.

He says that the Turkish MP gave him this information with an aim to jointly interfere and not let this project to implement, because it will create real danger to Georgia and Azerbaijan, as well as to this province of Turkey.

Turkey has no nuclear power stations, and there are only a few thermal power plants. Hydro power is seen as necessary to cover the country’s demand for energy.

Vakhtang Balavadze, representative of the parliament majority and chairman of the Local Government and Regional Policy Committee confirms that the project is being prepared, but after the Georgian government intervened it was decided that instead, there will be built a hydroelectric station in Georgia which will export all its electricity to Turkey.

“Its building was planned, but the Georgian government held negotiations, and as a result the construction works will be transferred to the territory of Georgia. Building works there may have caused problems. I mean the harm which could be done to the landscape and the Mtkvari. There could have been problems leading the rivers to Georgia, and their beds would have been changed. This project was a very complicated construction, and they had made the decision to build it on our side,” Vakhtang Balavadze says.

The government has neither commented on the Turkish project, nor the possibility of building a replacement hydroelectric station on the territory of Georgia.

Experts consider the project unrealistic, because of its far reaching ecological consequences which they say is not an issue for one country to decide.

Giorgi Targamadze says a solution could be to use an agreement signed by Turkey and the Soviet Union in 1928.

According to the agreement, the Mtkvari is considered a common property of those two countries. In the current situation, the legal heirs to the Soviet Union are Georgia and Azerbaijan.

“Accordingly, making a decision on the implementation of such a big scale project should be excluded without the consent of Georgia and Azerbaijan,” Targamadze says.



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