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Ani Hovhannisyan

Sewage Water Scandal: What Became of Prime Minister’s “Clean Armenia” Project?

Ani Hovhannisyan

Karapetyan issues directives galore, but who’s listening?

Four months ago, Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan told Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan to continue the steps being taken in the Armenian capital as part of the “Clean Armenia” program that Karapetyan had recently heralded.

Margaryan has been dragging his feet. On February 13, the mayor and his cronies tried to quash an attempt by Yerkir Tsirani council members to focus attention on the ongoing problem of sewage and waste odors in the Noubarashen neighborhood. The two Yerkir Tsirani members – Marina Khachatryan and Sona Aghekyan – were attacked and physically removed from municipal council session.

The embarrassing fracas could have been prevented had Minister of Emergency Affairs Davit Tonoyan, Minister of Nature Protection Artsvik Minasyan, Minister of Territorial Governance and Development Davit Lokyan, Minister of Agriculture Ignati Arakelyan, Minister of Health Levon Altunyan, State Water Resources Committee Director Arsen Haroutyunyan, and Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan heeded the directives issued by the prime minister on October 26, 2017.

Those directives were two-fold:

1. Take steps to prevent the mixing of irrigation and sewage water, and to eliminate cases where wastes are emptied into irrigation water. When necessary, to call those committing such acts to account as specified by the law. 

2. To draft a set of proposals, and to present them to the Government, to prevent such cases as noted above and regarding pollution compensation, by December 26, 2017

Hetq has examined the 264 directives issued by Prime Minister Karapetyan in 2017. In 90 of these, Karapetyan called on the heads of government agencies, provincial and local government bodies, to propose solutions for the water issues cited above and for other problems.

Karapetyan also issued directives regarding job creation, business development, spurring manufacturing, among others.

More specifically, he issued 40 directives on state governance, 34 on the environment, and 24 on business.

  Photos by Narek Aleksanyan

State Governance: Directives were issued to facilitate administrative policy, especially regarding investments. The prime minister also wanted various community services (garbage collection, lighting, medical) to be transferred to the private sector. A few directives dealt with making the reporting process of state agencies more transparent. The prime minister also issued directives for the implementation of prior directives.

Environment: Many of these directives dealt with trash collection and disposal as part of the “Clean Armenia” project. Several directives also dealt with illegal logging, prevention of illegal water usage from Lake Sevan, and measuring the damage caused by hydro-electric plants.

Business: The prime minister called for greater cooperation with Russian state agencies and the formation of an Armenia-Russia Investment Foundation to spur the business sector in Armenia. He called for the inclusion of Russian capital in the planned Meghri free trade zone. Karapetyan instructed all provincial governors to offer proposals regarding community investment and fostering tourism. He also instructed the State Revenue Committee to audit the books of small and medium sized business only in the most extreme cases.

Prime Minister Karapetyan issued 45 directives addressed to Minister of Territorial Administration and Development Davit Lokyan in 2017. Here are the numbers received by other top officials.

So many directives. But are they just words on paper? Hetq promises to investigate. 

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