Larisa Paremuzyan

Dried Up Trees and Rose Bushes at ‘Half Renovated’ Alaverdi Municipal Park

To offset the damage to the local environment, the northern Armenian town of Alaverdi has received 216.6 million AMD in 2014 and 150.5 million in environmental subsidies from environmental fees paid to the national government by the Armenian Copper Programme CJSC (a member of the Vallex Group), which operates a copper smelter in the town.

Last year, Alaverdi Mayor Artavazd Varosyan informed Hetq that for 2014-2015 the municipality has allocated 60 million to renovate the town park.

Work began last year by Titanyan Brothers Ltd., the contractor.  Varosyan told Hetq that 30 million would be spent in 2014 and the remainder this year.

In a conversation we had with Lori Provincial Governor Artur Nalbandyan on July 9, the official said that 70 million had actually been allocated.

When we arrived in Alaverdi on July 9, we saw no work at the park. Only one Titanyan Brothers employee was present, putting the finishing touches on the newly built restrooms. Weeds covered the entire park surface. Most of the tree saplings planted had withered under the relentless summer heat.

Titanyan Brothers Director Sanasar Titanyan said the company wasn’t to blame.

“The site will be delivered at the end of August. We’ve already finished 13 million in work. We were supposed to get more money on July 2 but it hasn’t been transferred,” Mr. Titanyan said.

Mayor Varosyan told Hetq that the municipality allocated 36 million last year for the park, not 30 million. 31 million has been allocated this year, he claimed.

“From the overall 67 million for the renovation, 41 million has been transferred and 26 million remains to be paid. The paperwork for 13 million has already been filed,” Varosyan said.

“The weeds conceal the work we have done here. It’s the middle of July and still no financing. Why not? We would have completed the job,” complained construction crew boss Edik Babadjanyan.

He said work started normally and that paving slabs were being installed but that the contractor had no money to purchase the slabs or the workers’ wages.

“If it was just one dead tree, fine. But it’s not just one,” Babadjanyan said.

Mayor Varosyan said that the final phase of the project will be completed by September. He said a tender bid for playground equipment has already been announced. The budget is 3 million. 1.2 million has been spent on planting trees and flowers.

Valery Margaryan, president of the landscaping company Malvina Ltd., says they have satisfied the contract signed with the municipality to plant trees and shrubs and to water them three times.

Margaryan argues his company isn’t to blame that the plantings have all dried up and that the municipality failed to water them in time.

“The town should hire a few people to care for the park, but it hasn’t,” Margaryan said.

While in Alaverdi I told Mayor Varosyan that Armenia’s Minister of Nature Protection would be travelling to his town on July 14 to inspect work financed by the environmental subsidies.

The news seems to have set a fire under the mayor. The next day, July 10, Titanyan Brothers workers were out in the park cutting back the weeds. Samvel, a Malvina worker, was raking up the dead roses.

Construction crew boss Babadjanyan told me that the mayor had visited the park twice since the other day and instructed workers to water the dried up trees and rose bushes.