Sochi roads on agenda

Sport Business News

Public hearings into a road project to link a mountain residence believed to be the dacha of Vladimir Putin to the road network were held in Sochi on 27 April 2012.

The road in question will cut through the Caucasus reserve and is being presented as a link to a 'Caucasus reserve meteorological station', though Environmental Watch has said on previous occasions that the project in fact aims to provide road infrastructure for the ski resort 'Lunnaya Polyana' constructed in the slopes of Fisht Mt. , on land previously owned by the Caucasus reserve by the state oil company Rosneft on orders of the Office of Presidential Affairs. In 2006–09, this resort, for which about 200 hectares had been taken from the UNESCO–protected Caucasian reserve, already attempted to gain a publicly–financed road, but UNESCO did not allow it. Currently a second attempt to build a road that the public does not need has been initiated. Already 250m rubles have been spent from the federal budget on planning this road. Public hearings are the next step in the process of getting the project approved, however they were organised with violations. By law, the project had to be presented to the public a month before the hearings, a requirement that was not honored as the project only appeared ten days before the hearings in the office of the Caucasus reserve. Materials presented to the public were in fact falsely presenting the project as a completely different road that has already been built one year ago near Krasnaya Polyana, and failing to mention that the road will cut through the UNESCO world heritage site 'Western Caucasus' which violates international agreements and recommendations by the UN body. The last decision taken on thirty–fifth session of UNESCO world heritage Committee outlines the urgent need to stop any development and road construction inside the reserve. Road planners present the road as necessary to provide all–season functioning of the Biosphere scientific environmental monitoring center, according to the documents. The road will span 52 kilometers and will also include a 9. 2 kilometer cable link unprecedented for Russia in terms of technology and expense. Total cost of the whole road is estimated at least three billion rubles, which is comparable to the annual budget of the Russian Academy of Sciences fundamental research programme. The road will also call for logging of dozens of hectares of forest inside the World Heritage Site, which will bring damages to Russian environment surpassing the cost of the road construction. Environmental Watch of North Caucasus considers this project a shameful and destructive plan that will benefit interest of certain corrupt officials, and that has nothing to do with interests of science or the environment. EWNC and Greenpeace–Russia plan to organize a public examination of the project.

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