Tag Archives: environment

Uzbekistan wants cement manufacturers to pollute less

NOV. 27 (The Bulletin) — Uzbekistan’s government is considering introducing a law that would force cement producers to measure and monitor their air pollution. The move is an indication that governments in the region may start to take more seriously the issue of worsening air quality. Other the past few years, Central Asia’s cities have become choked with car exhaust fumes and factory smog. Feeding demand from a booming construction industry, Uzbekistan’s cement sector is one of its fastest-growing industries.

— This story was first published in issue 430 of the weekly Bulletin.

Radioactive in Kyrgyzstan waste tip could collapse

NOV. 8 (The Bulletin) — Quoting environmental campaigners, Reuters reported that waste heap is in danger of collapsing into a river in southern Kyrgyzstan that feeds into the water supply system of millions of people living downstream in the Fergana Valley. Soviet uranium mining built up the slag heaps which have been neglected, said the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which is raising cash for a project to reinforce the slag dumps


— This story was first published in issue 428 of the weekly Bulletin.

Uzbekistan to start tree inventory

JAN. 23 (The Conway Bulletin) — For the first time, Uzbekistan said it will undertake a full inventory of its trees outside its forested areas. The inventory, which will last six months, will count, age and measure all the trees growing in public spaces. This inventory will be repeated every five years. Importantly, it reflects a greater emphasis on civil society in Uzbekistan since Shavkat Mirziyoyev took over as president in 2016.

>This story was first published in issue 398 of The Conway Bulletin on Jan. 31 2019
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Georgia’s TBC Bank starts building new HQ

TBILISI/DEC. 20 (The Conway Bulletin) – TBC Bank, one of two Georgian high street banks listed on the London Stock Exchange, started building a new $70m headquarters in a controversial site in countryside near Tbilisi.

If the building work goes to plan, the glass and steel complex set in the Lisi Lake recreational area will open in 2026 and will be the largest corporate office in the region, an expression of confidence and intent by TBC.

In a statement, TBC emphasis that its new headquarters will provide a light and flexible workspace for 2,000 workers.

“We are creating a completely new standard, which involves the use of the best technologies and at the same time combining elements of traditional Georgian architecture in a completely modern building,” said Badri Japaridze, deputy chairman of TBC.

The headquarters is also being designed to incorporate laboratories for employees to experiment on new ideas and concepts.

But the project is not without its controversies. Set in the Lisi Lakes area, transparency campaigners have accused TBC’s founders of buying the land on the cheap, in a 2007 deal that left the Georgian state, and ordinary people, short-changed.

In a report published three years ago, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), an activist group based in Berlin, said that TBC chairman Mamuka Khazaradze had bought the 354 hectare site from the government for $55m, instead of the original $182m asking price.

The new deal also dropped various conditions to improve the ecology of the area and also to improve access to the Lisi Lake area.

“Instead of being required to spend US$ 30 million on improvements, the only obligation in the new contracts is to build housing,” the OCCRP said in its report.
Mr Khazaradze, ranked as the second wealthiest person living in Georgia, has denied any wrongdoing.

Since buying the land, Lisi Lake Development and other companies linked to Mr Khazaradze have built housing, business centres on the site and also a university – the American Academy.


>>This story was first published in issue 395 of The Conway Bulletin on Dec. 23 2018

Penguins move to Georgian Zoo from Bristol

TBILISI, APRIL 12 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Nineteen penguins made themselves at home in Tbilisi’s refurbished zoo after being flown in from Bristol, southwest England.

The South African Penguins have been donated by Bristol Zoo to re- start a penguin population at Tbilisi Zoo, two years after a flood destroyed it. Other zoos around Europe have been donating animals to Tbilisi.

Christoph Schwitzer, Bristol Zoo’s director of conservation, said: “Animals regularly move to new zoos when they are old enough to join new breeding groups, and we are very happy to be able to support Tbilisi Zoo by donating a group of penguins to establish a new breeding group in Georgia as part of the European breeding programme.”


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(News report from Issue No. 324, published on April 13 2017)

Comment: After the flood: Restoring Tbilisi’s zoo, writes Kilner

APRIL 13 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) —  This week’s ‘March of the Penguins’ should be saluted. Nineteen penguins have been flown from Bristol in southwest England

Nineteen penguins have been flown from Bristol in southwest England to Tbilisi where they are being rehomed in order to build a new penguin population. A flood destroyed the zoo in 2015, killing half its animals including the penguins.

Other zoos around Europe have also been donating animals, Riga sent a tiger, bringing the Tbilisi Zoo’s animal population back up to strength.

It has been a regeneration programme that perhaps even Noah, with his ark, would be proud of. Less than two years ago, images flashed around the world of tigers drowned in mud, bears being shot by the security services and a hippo standing knee-deep in water in a central Tbilisi street.

Now the hippo called Begi, the focus of an elaborate rescue operation in 2015, is back in the zoo and visitors are able to see for themselves one of the world’s most famous animals.

The flash flood on June 14 2015 killed half the zoo’s animals. Tigers and exotic birds were drown in their cages; the security forces tracked and shot dead dozens of escaped animals. In total 300 animals died. The flood also killed 20 people, including one by an escaped tiger four days after the flood.

Tbilisi Zoo’s existence hasn’t been easy. Opened in 1927, at its peak in the 1970s the zoo housed 1,000 different species. In the 1990s, though, funds for the zoo dried up and visitor numbers collapsed. This was the difficult and impoverished post-Soviet era when the newly independent countries were more bankrupt than solvent. A report by the World Society for the Protection of Animals in 1993 said that half the animals had died of starvation of the cold in the previous two years.

Now, though, Tbilisi zoo has been patched together and plans to relocate out of the city are being considered once again. Its future looks brighter than ever.

This is the zoo which has survived starvation after the break up of the Soviet Union and risen from the mud and horror of the 2015 flash flood.

By James Kilner, The Editor, The Conway Bulletin


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(News report from Issue No. 324, published on April 13 2017)

Azerbaijani environmentalist force suspension of gas pipeline

APRIL 6 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Reuters reported that a court in Italy ordered the halt of construction work on the final segment of a pipeline running from the Caspian Sea to central Europe to protect an olive grove. Protesters have been complaining that the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) would destroy the ancient grove. TAP is part of the $40b Southern Gas Corridor which is seen as a vital piece of infrastructure for the EU’s gas imports. The suspension of construction work is a temporary measure.


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(News report from Issue No. 324, published on April 13 2017)


Kyrgyz MPs reject hunting ban

MARCH 20 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voted 56 to 52 against banning hunting of endangered deer and other animals (March 16). The vote angered environmentalists but pleased businesses who said a ban would be impossible to police and cost thousands of dollars. Eurasianet said 69 licences were given out last year to hunt deer while there were 520 reported incidences of illegal hunting.


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(News report from Issue No. 321, published on March 20 2017)

Car ownership in Kazakhstan rises up 400%

MARCH 10 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — The number of registered cars in Kazakhstan has nearly quadrupled since 2000, media reported quoting interior ministry figures. It said that there were now 4.4m cars registered in Kazakhstan, compared to 1.3m in 2000. Environmentalists have said that in Almaty, the thick smog that hovers over the city is, at least partially, linked to the high car use. There have been calls to try and curb car ownership in Kazakhstan.


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(News report from Issue No. 320, published on March 13 2017)

With one eye on EU regulations, Georgia reintroduces tests for cars

TBILISI, NOV. 15 2016, (The Conway Bulletin) — Georgian economy minister Dimitry Kumsishvili said compulsory vehicle maintenance and emissions inspections will resume from Jan. 1 2018, after a gap of 14 years, a move aimed at improving the safety of Georgian roads and meeting EU standards.

Mandatory vehicle inspection was abolished in 2004 due to its ineffectiveness and vulnerability to corruption, a reflection, perhaps, of Georgia’s chaotic business and social scene in the years after the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union.

Mr Kumsishvili said he wanted to attract foreign companies with experience to take on the challenge of running and monitoring an annual vehicle safety scheme and has invited companies with at least 15 years experience in Europe to apply by Dec. 8 to run the scheme.

Mikheil Khmaladze, the director of the Land Transport Agency, which sits within the economy ministry, told The Conway Bulletin that Georgia needed a company with experience if it was going to make a success of the project.

“We might know how to do this in theory but we lack the practical experience. The international company will be a consultant and will advise us on what to do. There is a lot of risk of corruption in this field,” he said in an interview.

The winner of the tender will be given a two-year contract starting on Jan. 1 2017.

Inspections will be conducted throughout the country by local businesses. A maximum price per inspection will be set and a national database, where all the data regarding will be entered, raked over and inspected for transparency.

The reintroduction of a vehicle inspection scheme was a requirement stipulated by the Georgia-EU

Association Agreement requirement. Georgia wants to join the EU.

Environmentalists have also said that the scheme is needed to cut pollutants.

Nino Shavgulidze, Chief of Party of Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN), said that cars were the biggest pollutants in Tbilisi.

“Statistics shows that of the more than 1m cars running in Georgia, a majority are more than 10 years old. Most of these vehicles do not have catalytic converters, are very poorly maintained, and emit pollutants that are dangerous for human health,” she said.


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(News report from Issue No. 305, published on Nov. 18 2016)