Ukrenergo blithely ignores EBRD reminders of commitments given
On the morning of 23 November the national energy company Ukrenergo continued construction of high-voltage power lines in the village of Usatove (Odessa region) under a 25.8 million EURO project financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development [EBRD]. The calls from the EBRD, made public at the end of last week, to immediately suspend construction and take measures aimed at smoothing tension in the district have thus been ignored.
Usatove residents who were peacefully protesting against the construction in their village were once again pushed from the site where the latest prop for the transmission line is being erected, and the area surrounded by police units with reinforcements and unidentified individuals in orange jackets.
As reported already, State-controlled Ukrenergo has gone against the loan conditions agreed with the EBRD in an agreement ratified by the Verkhovna Rada, and made changes to the project. Instead of building the transmission line bypassing the villages of Usatove and Nerubaiske, Ukrenergo decided to lay the power lines in direct proximity to people’s houses and through vegetable plots of local residents.
Following tense confrontation between the villagers and employers of Ukrenergo with police brought in on Monday 16 November to cordon the area off from protesters, the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine [NECU] sent an urgent letter to the President of EBRD calling on the Bank to use its influence and urge the Ukrainian Government to stop the outrageous violence in Usatove and implement the project in accordance with the plans agreed,
EBRD responded on 20 November warning Ukrenergo that funding for the given project may be halted until the Bank has carried out an assessment of the environmental and social consequences of Ukrenergo’s decision to change the initial route for the transmission line and the latter has taken all necessary measures to properly resolve all environmental and social problems linked with this change.
Instead the next day the construction work in Usatove continued, and on Sunday a representative of Ukrenergo, A. Shvedky, having called local residents to a meeting, confirmed plans to continue construction in the village and claimed that he had received no instructions to suspend work and “didn’t understand” what was written in the press release.
Yury Urbansky from NECU has welcomed the response from EBRD and says that the Bank’s demands are entirely in keeping with the conditions under which the loan was granted. He adds that Ukrenergo’s disregard for such conditions and the will of the local residents damages Ukraine’s international reputation. NECU calls on the Bank to suspend financing of the project, cancel the loan and demand that the money is returned in accordance with the loan agreement. The implementation of another project – the Rivne Kyiv High Voltage Line Project – should also be carefully examined.
From information at http://www.necu.org.ua/ukrenergo-nehtue-zasterezhennyamy-ebrr/