Thursday, 30 October

Mayor of Tzav: "I'll change my nationality if the Mazra gold mine is allowed to operate" (video)

Kristine Aghalaryan


10:26, June 19, 2012

When Tzav village mayor Ararat Martirosyan tries to describe the situation in his community a smile appears on his face.

“I’d like to say something good but can’t find anything good to say,” he laughs, adding, “We’re a far removed border village that’s even 4 kilometres from any map.”

The village has about 400 residents and is 37 kilometres from the regional centre of Kapan in Syunik Marz. Tzav is actually situated in the Shikahogh forest preserve.

Mayor Martirosyan says that village residents aren’t allowed to chop any trees in the preserve or even remove dried tree branches for fuel.

“The trees have more value than us humans. This isn’t good. People won’t remain here. If they can take you to court for chopping down one tree then who would want to stay here? They’ll go to the towns. Many have already left.”

The only jobs in town are to be found in the small hydr0-electric plant. Around 15 villagers work there.

Many others have left to work in the Kapan or Kajaran mines. During the last two years, 20 families have already packed up and left Tzav.

This is why the village is split on whether the Bardzradir (Mazra) gold mine should be allowed to operate. Some want the prospect of new jobs while others want to keep the clean air and water of the countryside.

Kindergarten Director Larisa Gevorgyan is sure that the mine will cause air pollution and is against the mine.

“We are fighting for a healthy new generation. Can a mine give us this?” she asks.

71 year-old grandpa Razmik says they have many complaints.

“The mine people say they will pay us well, but it’s not in our favour,” he says.

Mayor Martirosyan is opposed to all kinds of mining.

“It’s our valley and has remained virgin land. They should at least let this one remain,” declares the mayor.

Mining exploration is being carried out by a company called Opulent Trading Solutions.

At public hearings held on May 29, company engineer Vram Tevosyan presented the project to the community and said that the mine was planned to operate in 14 years and that studies would be conducted in the first three.

Tevosyan assured residents that the mining project would not damage the surrounding environment or pollute the air.

“Modern explosion technologies allow for minimal pollution on the local environment. Instead of dust clouds spreading to a distance of one kilometre, they can now be restricted to 300-400 meters,” Tevosyan claimed.

Based on these assurances, the mayor gave the go-ahead for exploration tests on 30 hectares on land once used as pasture.

Mayor Martirosyan said they’ve been prospecting for gold, silver and other precious metals on the same site ever since the 1970s.

He said this was probably the tenth round of tests and that no one has ever discovered a large enough reserve to justify further investment.

“I placed a condition on the exploration agreement. You have just one year to prospect. Once you’re finished you can come back and negotiate another contract.”

Environmentalists are concerned that the mine will damage the Shikahogh preserve. Some villagers do not agree. The mine is 15 kilometres from the village and from the preserve.

Mayor Martirosyan is not convinced. He’s afraid the mine will pollute the village’s source of drinking water, situated as it is at the mine site.

15 young village residents are now employed on the exploration team. Rumors abound that the number of jobs will increase.

“I work as an accountant at the village municipality and make 40,000 AMD monthly. But I just got paid for February. If I find out that the mine will pay me 120,000, I’ll go there and work,” says Hounan Grigoryan.

Mayor Martirosyan says that if there were 15-20 jobs in the village, everybody would be against the mine, even the exploration work.

21 year-old Azat has been working on the exploration team for over one month. He’s all for the mine since he believes there’ll be enough jobs for everyone in the village.

Mayor Martirosyan points to eco-tourism as an employment alternative and believes the area is ideally suited for the sector. He says that many tourists already make a point to visit the village since they have heard about Shikahogh.

He says that environmental projects are being drawn up for the villages surrounding the preserve.

The German Bank wants to heavily invest to preserve the environment in this region. Along with preserving the environment, international agencies also are assisting in agricultural development issues and in the repair of village houses.

The Tzav municipality has won a 10,000 Euro project competition to be used for various local purposes. Next year, there is the chance of winning a 200,000 Euro project.

Some 3 million AMD linked to environmental programs has already been invested in Tzav and other projects are slowly proceeding.

Former municipal council member Spartak Avetisyan doesn’t believe that the German projects are realistic.

“They distributed 35,000 AMD to each family but we have to pay it back in September. What can you do with that amount? Nothing,” says Avetisyan, who believes that jobs are needed to keep residents from moving away.

“If they want to keep this place a virgin zone, let them repopulate all of us and have the Germans move in. They can come and spend their vacations here and say what a fabulous place this is. No one pays attention to the sweat and toil we have to do,” says an irate Avetisyan.

Nevertheless, Mayor Martirosyan says he’ll never support the mine even if 99% of the village back it.

“In my capacity as the mayor I’ll declare that I’m changing my nationality,” he warns.


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Comments (5)
1. kathy babayan21:14 - 19 June, 2012
I will never vote for Mr Martirosyan for mayor's job again.... If a mayor is willing to change his nationality rather than fight for his town rights, then he should not be a mayor.
2. Վարազ Սյունի (Ամստերդամ)05:59 - 20 June, 2012
Սա իրոք դիլեմա է: Ես հասկանում եմ,որ մարդիկ աշխատանք/փող պիտի ունենան,որ ապրեն: Ուղղակի հանքը, եթե բացվի, պրոբլեմը պիտի տեղափոխի ապագա: Հանքերը փակվելուց հետո մարդիկ էլի պիտի աշխատանք փնտրեն. ուղղակի այդ ժամանակ կունենան նաև աղտոտված միջավայր և հավանաբար վատ առողջություն: Սյունիքում ՊԵՏԱԿԱՆ-ՄԱՐԶԱՅԻՆ մակարդակով ծրագրեր պիտի իրագործվեն. չեմ իմանում/հասկանում,թե ինչու չեն անում: ՄԱՍՆԱՎՈՐ (օտարներին պատկանող) հանքեր բացելը ՄԻԱՅՆ կարճաժամկետ ԿԻՍԱ-լուծում է. դեռ չեմ խոսում բնապահպանական վտանգների մասին:
3. Geolog18:28 - 24 June, 2012
ՄԱԶՐԱՅՈՒՄ ՈՍԿՈՒ ՀԱՆՔԻ ԱՐԴՅՈՒՆԱԲԵՐԱԿԱՆ ՊԱՇԱՐՆԵՐԸ ԿԱՐՈՂ ԵՆ ԿԱԶՄԵԼ ՄԻՆՉև ՎԷՑ ՀԱՐՅՈՒՐ ԿԻԼՈԳՐԱՄ ԴԱ ԱՊԱՑՈՒՑՎԱԾ Է ՎԱՂՈՒՑ ՄՆԱՑԱԾԸ ԲԼԵՖ Է և ՆԿԱՐՉՈՒԹՅՈՒՆ
4. KARLSON20:06 - 26 June, 2012
Մազրայի հանքի շահագործումը վերջնականապես խաչ կքաշի թե Շիկահողի արգելոցի, թե Կապանի ամբողջ տարածաշրջանի վրա: Իրենց գրպանները լցնել ցանկացող հարգարժան պարոնայք, ձեռք քաշեք այդ գաղափարից քանի դեռ ուշ չէ՝ քանզի էս մի բուռ ժողովուրդը էլ գնալու տեղ չունի, էլ իվիճակի չէ դիմադրելու պետական ՏԵՌՈՐԻՆ: Մեղք են , առանձ այն էլ նրանց հասցրել էք ծայրահեղ վատթար վիճակի ձեր ԱՆԿՈՒՇՏ ՓՈՂԱՍԻՐՈՒԹՅԱՆ պատճառով: ԵՎ վերջապես երբ են մեր գերագույն ատյանները հասկանալու, որ ԷՍ ՀԱՐՍՏՈՒԹՅՈՒՆԸ, ՈՐ ՀԱՆՈՒՄ ՏԱՆՈՒՄ ԵՆ, ԴԱ ՄԻԱՅՆ ԻՐԵՆՑ և ԻՐԵՆՔ ՆՄԱՆ ՄԵՑԱՑՈՂ ԵՐԵԽԱՅԱՆՄԱՆ ՇՆԱԳԱՅԼԵՐԻ ՀԱՄԱՐ ՉԷ: Սերունդները դեռ շատ առիթներ կունենան 100-ամյակներ հետո ԹՔԵԼՈՒ ՁԵՐ ԳԵՐԵԶՄԱՆԻՆ, ՀԱՎԱՏԱՑԱԾ ԵՂԵՔ: Միթե մեր կառավարության շարքերում չկան մարդիկ, որոնք ապագայի համար մտածեն................ Տո ասա ինչ էս նստե , ում վրա էս հույս դնում: Դրանց հեչ պետքա, թե սերունդ պիտի գա, ապագայի խնդիրներ ունենք, երկիրը թուրքի ՔՈՉԻ պես թողնող հեռացող 10-յակ հազարավոր հայեր կան: Հետո էլ կասենք թե մենք աշխարհի ամենահին և ամենախելացի ազգերից ենք: Բա ոնց......Խելոք ձևով ժողովրդին քշում են ՀԱՅԱՍՏԱՆԻՑ: Ինչ չկարաց անի ԹՈՒՐՔԸ, արեցին և դեռ շարունակում Է անելՄԵՐ ՎԱՅ ԿԱՌԱՎԱՐՈՒԹՅՈՒՆԸ. 100-ամյակներ թշնամու դեմ մեջք չծռած ՍՅՈՒՆԵՑՈՒՆ այսօր ուզում են չոքեցնեն, այն էլ ՄԻ ԲՈՒՌ ՈՍԿՈՒ ՀԱՄԱՐ........ ՄԻԹԵ ԴՐԱՆ Է ԱՐԺԱՆԻ ԲԱԶՈՒՄ ԶՐԿԱՆՔՆԵՐ ՏԵՍԱԾ ԷՍ ԺՈՂՈՎՈՒՐԴԸ, հետո էլ թե...ՀԱՎԱՏԱՆՔ, ՈՐ ՓՈԽԵՆՔ.........
5. Lilit14:07 - 11 April, 2013
I have to support this project and from what we have seen on the video it looks like the villagers are also keen on the development of these mines, why wouldnt they be? it will provide them with some kind of job opportunities and standards of living... People, we have to be open minded and embrace progress and industrail development, it is THE ONLY way, why dont we learn from developed capitalist world, America would have not become the powerful country it is now, if people were to oppose any industrail revolution, and to stick to their own backward ways of doing things. This major's talk about eco tourist, PLEASE this is a joke, ecotourism unfortunately will not be a big enough business for Armenia and for a small area like Shikahogh with no infrastructure in place, how can it compete with other eco touristic destinations, no way. Lets say we have couple of tourist visiting every now and then, how does that benefit all this villagers? its simply is not profitable enough by miles! besides my friends I completely understand those patriotic remarks over having a foreign investment but again we have to be open minded, theres NOTHING wrong with foreign investment , our whole economy depends on foreign investment, so will it be better to keep the mines undeveloped, and see how the population slowly diminishes (please check statistical evidence of this taking place year by year) ? Life goes forward not backward people , the mine is there to be explored in a responsible manner which is what the Germans seem to have in mind as well, so why dont we give the village people a chance to improve their lives? I hope this project works out
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