This is a photo of Shnogh village residents lining up for precious drinking water from the only source around.
The fountain, located on the side of the road entering the village, also attract residents from neighboring communities.
Haygaz Kochinyan has been the mayor of Shnogh for the past 16 years. The 3,000 village residents have been constantly after him to solve the water supply problem.
Back in 2010, Kochinyan told Hetq that he had raised the issue in May with Armen Gevorgyan, Minister of Territorial Administration, and was told that the Asian Development Bank would be funding the repair of the Stepanavan-Noyemberyan water pipe and that Shnogh would be supplied with water after work finished in September.
The repair work has long since been finished, but the water problem remains. The water pipe in question passes through a village neighbourhood called Vardan’s Boat.
It’s not a complicated matter to get water flowing to residents. But to avail themselves of the water flowing via this pipe the local branch office of the Armenia Water and Sewage utility must first come in and collect the fees.
This isn’t in the best interests of Mayor Kochinyan who is currently collecting water fees from the mountain springs located in a field called Manstev.
WWII vet and Shnogh resident Janibek Sahakyan says that two years ago MP Mikayel Vardanyan promised the villagers that he would have a larger diameter pipe installed to transport all the water from the springs down to the village.
“Ten days later the pipes arrived. But Mayor Kochinyan took the pipes to a piece of land he owns at the mouth of the Shek spring. He kept the pipes there for one year, hoping that we’d forget all about them. Later, he connected the pipe to the spring and directed the pipes to transport the water to his fields. Geez, it’s not just one thing or two. It’s a pity what’s being done to us people,” says Sahakyan.
When Sahakyan told the mayor that the water flowing from Manstev was dirty and unsafe to drink because of the livestock swimming in it, the veteran was told to mind his own business.
“I suggested that a purification plant be built. Kochinyan turned around and replied, ‘Don’t tell me what to do. I am solving much bigger issues here,’” recounts Sahakyan
Janibek Sahakyan also complains that the mayor took eight rooms on the second floor of the local hospital and handed them over to his daughter as private property. He adds that rooms on the first floor aren’t supplied with water, but that the mayor saw to it that the rooms on the second floor were hooked up with water.
Sahakyan claims that the mayor is never found in his office. “He’s always busy with his private affairs. He owns a few gasoline stations and has 150 head of cattle. Let me ask you the following. Why is it that a village resident must pay land tax on just 2,000 meters while Kochinyan pays nothing on the 100 hectares he owns?”
We got in touch with Mayor Kochinyan for some answers. His reply was short and to the point.
“Stay as far away from me as possible and don’t enter this village. You were here on Saturday. You think I don’t know?”
After getting nowhere with Mayor Kochinyan we got in touch with Lori Regional Governor Artour Nalbandyan.
When he understood the focus of our call Nalbandyan agreed that things had gotten out of hand in Shnogh.
“Write what you want and don’t worry about the mayor. We here at the Lori Regional Administration are working on the Kochinyan matter. Conditions are really bad in Shnogh.”
Haykaz Kochinyan will be running for re-election in the upcoming September 9 election and believes his chances are good.
Haykaz is the brother of former Lori Regional Governor Henrik Kochinyan. Does the word nepotism ring a bell?
During his 16 years on the job, Haykaz hasn’t been known for running an open style of local government.
No wonder his re-election bid has raised the dander of Janibek Sahakyan and other residents.