“For the first time in the history of Armenia, we will build a new village and the success of this project is extremely crucial.” Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan made such a statement at the government meeting on July 7,2022, when the plan for the construction of the strategic Kaps reservoir and the relocation of Jradzor village in Shirak marz was once again discussed.
It is noteworthy that Pashinyan made the same statement 2 years ago, at the government session on August 27, 2020, when the construction of the Kapsi reservoir was again on the agenda.
“In the history of the 3rd republic, this will perhaps be the first case when we will create a settlement from scratch, build a village from scratch,” the Prime Minister announced.
The “Fact Investigation Platform” tried to find out when the issue of building the reservoir appeared on the agenda of governments and what steps have been taken so far, apart from the announcements of building the reservoir and the construction of a new village “for the first time”.
Kaps Reservoir is an unfinished structure in Shirak Marz, on the right bank of the Akhuryan River. It is located 2 km north of Kaps village.
The volume of the reservoir that was supposed to be built in 1985, was 90 million m3 according to the initial design.
After the 1988 earthquake, the project was revised with a seismic resistance of 9 points, leaving the volume of the reservoir at 70 million cubic meters.
Due to the lack of funding, the construction of the reservoir was stopped after the collapse of the USSR. The first phase of the new project envisaged the construction of a reservoir with a volume of 25 million cubic meters, and later up to 60 million cubic meters .
The strategic goal of the project is to provide stable and high-quality irrigation for around 17 thousand hectares of land in Shirak, as well as to provide water for another 7000 hectares of irrigated land in Talin region of Aragatsotn marz.
Kaps reservoir has been under construction since 2007
In 2007, the reconstruction works of the reservoir were included in the “Challenges of the Millennium” program, which also included the construction of the Kaps gravity system with its hydrostructures. The program was frozen after the events of March 1, 2008.
The new decision on the reconstruction of the Kaps reservoir was made already in 2013.
The RA government has approved the draft financing agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the Reconstruction Loans Bank (KfW). The German KfW bank has expressed its readiness to support the completion of the construction of the Kaps reservoir dam: a tender for the design of the project was announced.
In 2014 and then in 2017, a loan agreement was signed between the Republic of Armenia and the Reconstruction Credit Institute (KfW Development Bank), which planned to implement the “Joint Management of Water Resources/Akhuryan River, Phase 1” project, in particular, the construction project of the Kaps reservoir and gravity irrigation system.
At that time, it was planned to start the construction of the Kaps reservoir in 2020.
Then, in 2020, the RA government again decided to “take serious measures” for the Kaps reservoir construction project and resettle the villagers.
In August, at the convened meeting of the Government, the Action Plan for Land Acquisition and Resettlement of Jradzor Rural Community was approved within the framework of the “Joint Management of Water Resources/Akhuryan River, Phase 1” project.
The plan was to increase the volume of the reservoir to 25 million cubic meters with the possibility of further expansion up to 60 million cubic meters.The government also referred to the Kaps reservoir reconstruction project at the July 7, 2022 session.
Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure Gnel Sanosyan said that it is planned to allocate 13.3 billion drams for the implementation of three large projects, one of which is related to reservoir construction.
“Now the documents are being reviewed, and if everything goes well, it will be necessary to allocate 3.5 billion drams additional money to the builder,” said the minister.
This time, the construction works of the strategically important Kaps reservoir and the new village are planned to start in 2023. According to the assurances of the officials, the new village will be ready in 2026.
Reasons for delaying the reservoir construction project
The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures informs that the postponement of the project is, in particular, due to the results of the expert committee’s conclusion, which found certain deficiencies and proposed time-consuming changes.
“Technical and economic feasibility studies were carried out in 2013-2015.The contract for the provision of design consulting services was signed in 2016, and the actual geotechnical and geological studies were carried out in 2016, the results of which were reviewed by the Expert Committee (EC).
As a result, the EC found serious deficiencies and proposed significant changes to the design concept, which required additional time and resources. Detailed design work started later than planned due to the lengthy procurement (selection) process of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) consultant. (The first tender was canceled due to significantly higher bids).
In addition to the abovementioned, the progress of the Project implementation was also negatively affected by the COVID-19 and the military situation in the country, as a result of which the processes of finalization of design estimate and tender documents, as well as the examination and announcement of construction tender were extended. As a result, it was not possible to start the construction in 2020,” the ministry explains.
According to the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure, the program is being implemented with 50 million euros provided by the German bank and 18.5 million euros to be provided, as well as with the co-financing of the RA government.
According to them, the final price will be determined by the contract signed as a result of the tender.
The necessary activities for the start of the construction of the Kaps reservoir have been completed
Eventually, at what stage is the construction of the reservoir? The ministry assures that the actions necessary for the start of the construction of the reservoir have been completed.
“In particular, in the framework of the ‘Combined Water Resources Management / Akhuryan River program, Stage 1’ program technical and economic feasibility studies, geotechnical surveys and geodetic mining were carried out; detailed design and estimate documents were developed; Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Report and Land Acquisition and Resettlement Action Plan (LAP) were prepared, which have received the relevant consents/approvals and passed all required examinations.
An international tender was announced for the construction of the Kaps dam and supporting structures, and it is currently under evaluation.
The layout scheme of the new village has been developed, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure claims that the work is underway
In response to our inquiry, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure also assures us that due to the construction of the reservoir, the construction of a new village is in progress. Two consultants are involved in the process of resettlement and construction of a new village by order of the Territorial Fund of Armenia. The first of the consultants is “Global Partners Group” LLC, which works directly with the residents of the community.The company should provide the necessary advice in the process of project reimbursements and decision-making.
“At the current stage, work continues, in particular, on registration of affected persons, updating of data, provision of necessary information, registration of real estate rights and other issues,” the Ministry informs.
The second consultant is carrying out the design works of Jradzor village.
“The design company has completed the functions provided for in Phase 1 of the contract Task 1, in particular, it has carried out the study of the area allocated for the new settlement of Jradzor, collected initial materials, made a complex assessment of the area, developed the concept and layout scheme of the new settlement of Jradzor,” informs the Ministry, concluding with an optimistic statement: “The work continues.”