K. Andreasyan evaluates activities of the RA Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources

Armenian Human Rights Defender Karen Andreasyan continues presenting the assessment of the Armenian Ministries. Here is the evaluation of activities of the RA Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources for 2011.

The text is presented by the press service of Armenian Human Rights Defender’s office.

One of the most frequently raised problems in the sphere of consumption and maintenance of lithosphere are shortcomings in the process of providing a license for exploration and extraction of the lithosphere.  The society opinion was nօt taken into consideration in the process of licensing the mineral extraction, and the necessary analysis has not been conducted in forms of harmful impact on the environment as a result of such activity. Whereas, according to the RA Code about the Lithosphere (6 November, 2002), which was repealed on 1st January, 2012, a provision was prescribed about obligations to consider the participation in discussions about recommendations on maintainance of the lithosphere by citizens, public associations and public bodies. 

The RA Control Chamber has also registered violations in the process of licensing. The RA Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources did not carry out a proper control over maintenance of requirements of mining industry legislation by mining organizations.  Due to Control Chamber’s researches violations by mining organizations were registered in the process of concession fees calculation and payments to the state budget, prescribed by the law and by the N562 decision « About definition of the amount and payment procedures of concession fees » of the RA Government, on 8 May, 2003. The calculated concession fee for 20 mineral extraction companies with a license was 158.979.6 thousand AMD, but only 79,812.2 thousand AMD had been paid to the state budget.  The number and nature of the registered violations itself evidence about the inadequate control by the Ministry over the corresponding organizations.

In the sphere of  security assurance of electricity use the level of the effective control by the Ministry towards maintenance of safety rules prescribed by technical regulations and other legal acts was not sufficient. Due to the Ministry’s official data – as a result of technical inspections conducted by the State Energy Inspectorate of the Ministry in energy sector company devices during 2011, proceedings were carried out and penalties imposed for administrative violations made towards 10 officials.

Violations were also registered in the respect with proper recording of residents’ expenditures of electricity. As a result of joint researches carried out by specialists of the Ministry and  « Electric Networks of Armenia ” CJSC, some inaccuracies, relating to electricity consumption in the cards of 124 resident-customers, were registered and canceled. For violations or inadequate implementation of the norms, prescribed by technical regulations, energy supply rules and supplier-customer (resident) contractual obligations, criminal cases were initiated against 5 officers of the corresponding organizations, 34 officers were fired from the occupied positions and disciplinary sanctions were imposed towards 206 officers. The abovementioned statistics itself evidences about necessity of taking consistent and effective measures in the sphere of implementation of control over assurance of maintenance of security norms of life, property and environment of citizens, prescribed by technical regulations and other legal acts, as well as implementation of contractual obligations by the supplier.

Lack of adequate control by lithosphere users over implementation of environmental and mining industry legislation norms remains a concerning issue in the field of mining industry.  

During 2011 ecological and human rights organizations were regularly raising the issue of not ensuring public discussions about draft  RA Code “About Lithosphere”, as well as the process of closed and hasty adoption of the Code. Though the RA Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources informed that  it had conducted public hearings on the draft of the new Code about the RA Lithosphere with representatives of NGOs (members of the Public Ecological Alliance) on 23 September and 8 October, 2010, as well as the Ministry partook in discussions on the project held by several bodies and organizations (ecological issues and recommendations had been transfered to the RA Ministry of Nature Protection, which recommendations had been fully included in the project by the Ministry), however, concerns and complaints on the process expressed by several civil society organizations evidence, that the civil society’s full participation was not conducted, and the public opinion mostly was not taken into consideration.

Relations relating to rocks of a stripping layer  of mining wastes have not been regulated by the RA Legislation so far. According to the 1st part of Article 2 of the RA Law « About Wastes », the law applies to the use of wastes accumulated during production and consumption, and, according to the 2nd part of the Article, the law does not apply to radioactive wastes, materials mixing up with sewages and flowing into natural waters, materials emitting to atmosphere with gas mixtures isolating from emission sources, rocks of a stripping layer of mining industry organizations. Relations regarding the use of the mentioned wastes are regulated by other laws and legal acts of the Republic of Armenia. During the eight years next to the adoption of the abovementioned law any legal act regulating the mentioned relations has not been adopted, as a result of which the mining organizations were relieved of the obligation to pay ecological fees for installing mining wastes in the environment. 

Karen Andreasyan, Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia

 The list of the identified positive developments, gaps and shortcomings is not exhaustive.

 The introduced Chapter (8) of the HRD Annual Report 2011 is available in full at http://pashtpan.am/pages/downloadPdf/file_id/615.

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