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Ecological fear takes molehills for mountains?

2 (2008)
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Ecologists strongly object against the Olympic objects being built in the nature preserves of a special importance since thousands of hectares will be turned into urbanized landscapes.

There is nothing better than mountains… except the Olympic objects

The scandal about the Grushevy mountain range happened because its parts had been included in the list of the territories which could be granted on lease for constructing of the sport and tourist climatic mountain complex «Krasnaya Polyana». Bobsleigh route and Olympic village were to be built there. The Grushevy mountain range is the territory of a special importance. In 2007 the ecologists sent sixteen variants of the alternative position of the route to the Organization Committee «Sochi-2014». All of them satisfied the requirements of the international sport federations. The battle was won by the ecologists. On July 3, 2008 Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister of Russia, declared that the Olympic objects had to be transferred from the Grushevy mountain range to some other place. One of the sixteen variants was quite suitable — the area of the mountain resort «Alpica-Service» in Krasnaya Polyana.

All ends are in water

A more serious ecological threat arose due to the plans to build the Olympic objects and infrastructure on the mountain range Aibga and the river Mzymta. The Aibga mountain range is a unique wildlife area of the West Caucasus. It is inhabited with rare and protected animals, insects and reptiles, a great number of which is included in the Red Book. Fifteen hoists, 6 cableways, main complex, mountain refuge «Rose Khutor» and many other objects are planned to be built on the slopes of the range. The public organization «North Caucasus Ecological Watch» warns, Once space structure is destroyed the death of half or even two thirds of the flora and fauna population is inevitable. The process of constructing will result in felling of a large quantity of wood. The most significant felling areas are connected with the construction of the mountain-skiing routes which are to cover 227 hectares. The prospects for the river Mzymta are also quite dramatic. Besides the danger of water pollution during the maintenance of the Olympic objects, the following results are quite real: loss of spawning-grounds, exhaustion of resources caused by the significant water intake for «snowing» the skiing routes and catastrophic floods.

Is it a place for portcity?

The Imeretinskaya Lowland is an area located between the rivers Mzymga and Psou on the Black Sea coast. In 1911 it got the status of the protected nature zone. But now it is the place where they plan to build two ports (in the mouths of the Psou and the Mzymga). The local beaches are supposed to be among the best ones on the entire coast. It is confirmed that the construction of the ports will cause a great damage to the territory or even destroy it. This will result in reducing the number of tourists and losses for different kinds of business. The authorities put the stress on the aspect of temporal status of all the ports. It is said that after the Olympic Games the ports will become the yacht marines which means that industrial production will be shut down.

Though «the changes in the Government resolution №991 (December 29, 2007) do not suggest reprofiling of «The Second Cargo District of the Sochi Port» into a recreation area. Since June of 2008 the residents of the Imeretinskaya Lowland have been protesting against the construction of the port, hindering the process in many ways.

Andrei Rudomakha, a coordinator of the public organization «North Caucasus Ecological Watch»: «Commercial structures will try to rewind»

— Is there any progress in the process of settling the ecological problem of the Grushevy range?

— Unfortunately, the problem of the Grushevy range preserving has not been solved yet even after two Olympic objects were transferred. There are still some plans to place a biathlon complex, a road, a substation, some other objects of infrastructure and a recreation area «Yurjev Khutor» for about a thousand places on its slopes. Some commercial structures whose interests include productive development of this territory, seem trying «to rewind the tape», and despite the fact that the Olympic village and the bobsleigh route have been transferred they still want to launch some construction works there.

— The Olympic objects construction has put at risk the Aibga mountain range. Can the situation be improved?

— The statement that «Rose Khutor» will be some kind of «ecological resort» is not more than just a PR-action, it has no real basis. The representatives of our organization asked to make ecological conception clear, but there was no answer. The complex construction has resulted in colossal negative influence on wildlife.

— Is the construction of ports on the rivers Mzymta and Psou in process? Has the information of reprofiling this area into a recreation zone been confirmed?

— «Rosmorport» repeatedly tried to launch the construction of «The second cargo district of the Sochi port», but each time the active position of the local people prevented the process. The construction of «The first cargo district of the Sochi port» already started. Positioning of such cargo ports in the Imeretinskaya lowland is inadmissible. In fact, it has to be covered up with earth in order to build some major construction objects. As for the statement of the temporal status of ports, it is not more than just a Prmove. Nobody will give up the extraordinary profitable business, especially after huge sums of money are invested.