Kristine Aghalaryan

Hydro-Plants vs Tourism: Battle Lines Drawn in Armenia's Syunik Province

Ruben Vardanyan, a wealthy businessman based in Russia who supports various tourism development projects in Armenia, is so concerned that the construction of two mini hydro-plants may adversely affect tourism in the country’s southern Syunik region that he has met with Armenia’s prime minister in an attempt to halt their construction.

This news was conveyed by a Hetq source close to the issue.

The two hydro-plants are being built in the Syunik communities of Tatev and Tandzatap by a company called Tatevi Anapat LLC which is 50% owned by Sourik Khachatryan, the governor of Syunik Province.

The affected areas fall within a region that the IDeA (Initiatives for Development in Armenia), co-founded by Vardanyan, has been actively promoting as a prime tourist zone in Armenia.

In 2010, IDeA launched the construction of the Wings of Tatev aerial cable car that leads to the historic Tatev Monastery. The cable car project is just one part of the Tatev Revival program, envisioning the reconstruction of the Tatev Monastery Complex and the development of local communities (job creation, fostering entrepreneurship in communities and local standards of living).

Hetq got in touch with IDeA to find out if the above meeting actually took place between Vardanyan and Armenia’s prime minister.

In response, the IDeA’s public affairs division said that discussions have been held with various government officials regarding the hydro-plants and that the issue has also been broached locally, within the scope of plans to create a national park in the region.

“We hope that all these discussions will lead to resolutions that will allow for the full implementation of regional development projects,” concluded the IDeA’s reply.

Pipes for the hydro-plants, now under construction, are already been laid in the two abovementioned communities.

It would thus seem that these discussions have run their course and that the plants will be constructed, even if Tatev Revival Program suffers as a result.

Photo (from left): Sourik Khachatryan, Ruben Vardanyan