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Kristine Aghalaryan

Ministry Claims of Capping Aquifer Wells at Fish Farms Lack Detail

When it comes to the environment risks threatening Armenia’s Ararat Valley, Hetq has written extensively about large-scale fish farming and the drain they place on the underground aquifers.

Armenia’s government claims that it too realizes the threat and is taking measures to stop the profligate dependence on underground aquifers by the fish farms.

The Ministry of Nature Protection has informed Hetq that none bore wells have been dismantled during the period October 31 to December 13. The ministry says the wells were producing 465 liters of water every second. Six other wells, spewing out 180 liters per second, were supposedly capped. Another seven are scheduled to be dismantled in the near future.

The government allocated 108 million AMD on October 31 in order to dismantle 43 illegal wells found to be operating in the provinces of Ararat and Armavir.

So far, the Ministry states that three wells have been dismantled and seven capped in Armavir.

Hetq asked the Ministry to provide greater details on the process; specifically what companies owned the dismantled or capped wells and were the owners of illegal wells held accountable.

The Ministry’s Chief of Staff provided a less than detailed answer which merely stated that 14 operations had been inspected for illegal wells, that the owners were prosecuted according to the law, and that they were instructed to dismantle or cap the wells.

Earlier, the Ministry had revealed that illegal wells were dismantled at a number of companies including Mkhchyan Fish, Aleks Grig, Emi Fish, Royal Paradise, and Aquatech Avtomatika.

Aleks Grig, a company owned by MP Samvel Aleksanyan, consumes large quantities of underground water for its fish farm. The operation hadn’t even installed a water usage meter.

Aquatech Avtomatika is owned by Argady Gevorgyan, former president of Armenia’s Association of Fish Farmers. The Ministry failed to say how many wells there were shut down and the amount of water they were consuming.

According to the Ministry’s website, recent inspections of Ararat Province fish farms resulted in overall fines of 400,000 ($1,000) for a variety of water usage violations.