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Угроза уникальным природным комплексам в результате строительства объектов Олимпиады 2014 года.

Комментарии экспертов и подробности


Road to Psluh cordon endangering western caucasus world heritage site


Construction of a motor road leading to Pslukh Cordon located in the Caucasus Reserve started in December 2006 in connection with Sochi's bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics being one of the three candidate cities for future Winter Olympics.

Construction is carried out by JSC "Tunnel Detachment No.44" within the framework of the Federal Target Program (FTP) "Development of Sochi as a Mountain-Climatic Resort: 2006 – 2014". This road has been formally divided into two sections officially named by the FTP as the Alpica-Service Road – Sulimovsky Stream (the lower sports base) (1.8 km) and Sulimovsky Stream – Sleigh-Bobsleigh Track (8.4 km).

The ongoing jobs include road grading and filling with gravel taken from Mzymta River, tree felling along its route, pipe laying for the streams, and survey works. Asphalting is scheduled for the coming spring.
The road construction is posing a serious threat to the highest value natural areas of the Western Caucasus and conflicts with the environmental legislation as the road should cross the territory of Sochi National Park and Sochi Zakaznik (wildlife refuge) to end within the territory of the Caucasus Reserve. Therefore, the road will stretch along the boundaries of the "Western Caucasus" World Heritage Site and will enter its territory. Russian legislation prohibits construction of such motor roads within bounds of such protected areas.

Apart from the fact that the construction is a breach of protection conditions for protected natural areas, it does not have any permitting documentation at all. There is no road design with the self-evident environmental impact assessments and other obligatory expertises to legalize the construction. Even the land allocation documents for the road construction plots are missing. The road is being built virtually "at sight". Designing and legal implementation of the road are carried out in parallel with its construction which is outraging environmental and engineering requirements.

But who makes them haste with the road construction? As it became known to the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus the reason for the time pressure was the decision made to turn Pslukh Cordon in the Caucasus Nature Reserve into one of the venues for reception of the IOC Evaluation Commission to visit Sochi in February 2007.

The vicinities of the cordon area are scheduled to locate a sleigh/bobsleigh track, biathlon complex, Mountain Olympic Village, and numerous hotel complexes. And Russian officials want to demonstrate the readiness for the Winter Olympics. The IOC Evaluation Commission will receive there a guided tour of the planned facilities.

Many Russian officials have repeatedly claimed that Olympic Games would in no way affect the Caucasus Reserve. These claims were far from being true from the very beginning as a large number of Olympic sports facilities are planned to be built within the buffer zone of the reserve. This will cause a significant negative influence on its natural complexes. Now it is becoming increasingly evident that the 2014 Winter Olympics are intruding the immediate territory of the Caucasus Nature Reserve and the World Heritage site.

The construction of the road to Pslukh Cordon in December 2006 was opposed by the wardens of Sochi Zakaznik, whose checkpoint stands in the road route near Grushevy Ridge in the "Three of Narzans" Tract. This especially protected natural area which formally rates a much lower protection status than Sochi National Park has in fact proved to be a much more protected area in contrast to Sochi National Park which failed to take any action to restrain violations of protective regime. The Sochi City Administration and other state bodies interested in the Olympics conduct put a tremendous pressure on the Sochi Zakaznik management to let the road builders go into its territory.

The resistance offered by Sochi Zakaznik then stopped the road construction. But after the New Year's holidays the road builders have nevertheless resumed their work in the protected area between the Three of Narzans Tract and Pslukh Cordon. January 18, 2007 they reached the Caucasus Reserve territory and started laying the pipe into Pslushonok Stream which is the reserve border. Here the constructors were blocked by the wardens of the Caucasus Reserve.
The reception of the IOC Evaluation Commission at Pslukh Cordon is not a one-off "Olympic" activity which the officials are eager to arrange in this segment of the Caucasus Reserve. As became known to the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus, that Russian Olympic Committee and JSC "International Club Krasnaya Polyana" supported by the state authorities have since long laid their claims to the reserve lands in the area.

They proposed that the reserve should make a "territory exchange" and "transfer" the area around the Pslukh Cordon including the cordon itself to accommodate various facilities. Simply because the level stretches situated among the steep mountain slopes are very fit for the intended purposes.
The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources has not agreed to that and the issue seemed to be closed. But reality turned out to be different. The claims to the Caucasus Reserve territory have become the issue of the day again.

Therefore, if Sochi is really selected for Olympic Games 2014 then the claims will not be only limited by the reserve territory in area of Pslukh Cordon with the Olympiad challenging increasingly more segments of the reserve.

There is a paradoxical situation in Russia now, where the noble goals of the Olympic Movement have become a basis for breaches of the law as implementation of plans to prepare for the Winter Olympics host is threatening the World Heritage property. Regretfully, this is being done through direct orders of the Russian top officials who have their interests in the conduct of Olympic Games 2014.


22/01/2007

Аndrey RUDOMAKHA
(Environmental Watch on North Caucasus)


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