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Another successful case on access to environmental information

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Three years ago, in September 2007, president of Kazakhstan assigned prime-minister to check legislation compliance of the new construction developments in the city of Almaty.
As assigned by the head of the state, a special work group was created.

A letter of the president discussed at the meeting of the government on September 11, 2007, stated the following: “Despite of my direct orders, high-rise residential buildings continue to be developed in Medeu, Malay Almatinka gorge is fully built-up till Medeu, in Butakovka, everything is fenced, and people cannot access the creek. Almaty citizens are full of indignation. Hundreds of buildings located on Bolshay Almatinka do not comply with the environmental standards and violate the law”.

General Public Prosecutor’s Office conducted another revision of the legality of allocation of the land plots and construction developments in the water protection strips of the rivers Bolshay and Malay Almatinka, Butakovka, Medeu, and Almaarasansky gorges and within the limits of the specially protected natural territories. During the revision, it was determined that 1460 cases violated the land and water legislation and the law about specially protected territories. Facts of unauthorized occupation of the land plots, their improper utilization, and illegal change of their target utilization were discovered. Violations of the urban development legislation were discovered, in particular: construction without permitting documentation, illegal issuance of the building permits, utilization of the sites without approval of the buildings, lack of registrations of the sites in the organs of justice.

In order to eliminate the consequences of the violations, the General Public Prosecutor’s Office offered the government to charge the akimats of the city of Almaty and Almaty oblast “to take measures for cancellation of the illegal decisions about allotment of the land plots in the water protection strips and on the specially protected natural territories and to start the process of returning the lands back to the state property”.

Three years past from the time of the revision, and the Ecological Society “Green Salvation” addressed the Akimat of the city of Almaty with a request to provide information on what measures had been taken concerning the matter.

A reply to our request came from the Department of Land Relations of the city of Almaty. We were told that by the results of the revision of legality of the land plots allocation in the water protection zones and strips and within the limits of the specially protected territories, the Akimat of the city of Almaty made five provisions on condemnation of the lands for the state needs, including buyback procedure.

But the Akimat representatives refused to provide these documents, explaining that “the requested provisions touch upon citizens’ interests, which does not give a right to provide the provisions”.

The refusal of the Akimat to provide the environmental information was a violation of the legislation of Kazakhstan and Aarhus Convention, therefore, the Ecological Society initiated a lawsuit. After consideration of our claim, the judge determined that the Akimat must provide the requested information! Following the court decision, on September 11, the Akimat provided all five provisions.


Along the river Bolshay Almatinka:
  • provision of the Akimat of the city of Almaty № 7/976 dated on 25.09.2007 “About condemnation, including buyback, of land plots for the state needs” (with a list of 153 land plots);
  • provision of the Akimat of the city of Almaty № 9/1117 dated 05.11.2007 “About confiscation of land plots for the state needs”.
Along the river Malay Almatinka:
  • provision of the Akimat of the city of Almaty № 7/977 dated on 25.09.2007 “About condemnation, including buyback, of land plots for the state needs” (with a list of 38 land plots).
Along the river Bekenbay:
  • provision of the Akimat of the city of Almaty № 7/978 dated on 25.09.2007 “About condemnation, including buyback, of land plots for the state needs” (with a list of 50 land plots).
In the natural park “Medeu”:
  • provision of the Akimat of the city of Almaty № 2/377 dated on 5.06.2008 “About the regulatory measures of land relations in the “Medeu” and “Chimbulak” holes” (with a list of 113 land plots with expired state acts on private ownership and temporary land use).
Earlier, the Department of Land Relations of the city of Almaty informed: “According to the reports prepared by independent companies, it was estimated that the compensatory payments for the condemnation of the lands will require over 49 billion 628 million tenge. The city budget does not possess of these funds, and therefore, the further procedure of the lands confiscation will be possible after resolving the question of financing” (Letter № 02-05/349,250 dated on 1.03.2010).

Thus, after the considerable efforts of addressing to the court, the requested information was received. But determining whether or not the issue is being resolved in reality is going to be a more difficult task.


Translated by Sofya Tairova.