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We demand to assure compliance with the Aarhus Convention!

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Open letter

As known, the seventh Conference of ministers “Environment for Europe” will take place in Astana on September 21-23, 2011. We are concerned that Kazakhstan approaches such important international forum with unsatisfactory results in the area of environmental protection and compliance with the international agreements, particularly, the Aarhus Convention.
 
At the Forth Meeting of the Parties of the Aarhus Convention ended on July 1, 2011, in Chisinau (Moldova), the Republic of Kazakhstan was issued a caution and for the third time the country was admitted to fail its compliance with a number of the Convention provisions (decisions IV/9с on compliance by Kazakhstan with its obligations under the Convention).
 
Outgoing No. 075
Dated on September 15, 2011.



Minister of Environmental Protection,
Ashim Nurgali Saduakasuly
8 Orynbor street, building “House of Ministries”, unit A, entrance 14
Astana 010000


Open letter

Dear Nurgali Saduakasuly!

As known, the seventh Conference of ministers “Environment for Europe” will take place in Astana on September 21-23, 2011. We are concerned that Kazakhstan approaches such important international forum with unsatisfactory results in the area of environmental protection and compliance with the international agreements, particularly, the Aarhus Convention.
 
At the Forth Meeting of the Parties of the Aarhus Convention ended on July 1, 2011, in Chisinau (Moldova), the Republic of Kazakhstan was issued a caution and for the third time the country was admitted to fail its compliance with a number of the Convention provisions (decisions IV/9с on compliance by Kazakhstan with its obligations under the Convention). 
 
Decisions II/5a (2005) and III/6c (2008) adopted earlier at the meetings of the parties are still not implemented. The incompliance with the Convention requirements which continues for many years creates a fertile soil for new violations of the citizens’ rights on a favorable environment, causes public indignation and growth of social tension, brings damage to the image of the country, brings doubts about possibility of implementation of the Astana initiative “Zeleniy most” (“Green bridge”).
 
The entrusted to you Ministry conducts international collaboration in the area of environmental protection and sustainability, including realization of international agreements (sub-paragraph 3, paragraph 13 of the Statement about the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2007), and provides the state environmental control over compliance with the environmental legislation, norms of the environmental requirements (sub-p.8, p.12), and also is entitled to improve legislation in the area of environmental protection, natural resources utilization, and assuring environmentally sustainable development of the society (sub-p.3, p.12).
 
Being a Minister and using the given to you power, you are entitled to change the situation and to improve the image of the country in front of the world community and bring back public trust.
 
We urge you to use the authorities given to you in the full extent and provide immediate solutions to the following problems which are surely familiar to you.
 
1. A construction project of a high-voltage power line for 110 kV in the city of Pavlodar is being run with the same violations as were taking place during construction of a similar power line in a micro-district Gorniy Gigant in the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affaires) campus in the city of Almaty in 2002 (see decision II/5a of the Meeting of the Parties of the Aarhus Convention).  Recommendations from the indicated decision and national legislation are totally ignored by the construction developers of the power line in Pavlodar. The construction affects interests of thousands of people, and therefore, the public demands to ban the illegal development.
 
We demand to cease the illegal development of the power line and to assure compliance with all of the environmental legislation requirements relevant to construction of such facilities.
 
2. With the most blatant violations and despite of the public opinion, a construction of a landfill for highly toxic industrial waste is planned within the city limits of Zyryanovsk. The development affects interests of thousands of people. The public is striving to ban the illegal development.
 
We demand to stop the illegal development of the landfill for highly toxic industrial waste within the city limits and assure compliance with all of the environmental legislation requirements applied to its development outside of the city limits.
 
3. On June 1, 2010, the Supreme Court made a decision about re-settling of the residents of Berezovka village (West-Kazakhstan oblast) living in the sanitary-protection zone of KPO. On November 11, the decision came into legal force, but till this date has not been executed. The people are uninformed about how and when the decision is going to be implemented. Beside this, for the past several years, dangerous slumps are forming on the territory of the village, in particular, under one of the residential houses, and also in the steppe near the village. Many experts relate the slumps to the oil extraction. The village population is about 1400 people.
 
We demand to bring the sanitary and protection zone of KPO in strict compliance with the requirements of the environmental legislation as soon as possible.
 
We demand to conduct a competent investigation (an environmental assessment, if necessary) of the reasons of the soil slumps and to undertake the most decisive measures based on the results of the investigation, in order to prevent death of the people and damage to their property and health. 
 
4. In the city of Almaty, several families who live within the limits of a sanitary protection zone of “Tsentrobeton” Ltd. more than 10 years cannot obtain resettlement. Based on their statement, the decision III/6c of the Meeting of the Parties of the Aarhus Convention was adopted. Overall, several hundreds people reside within the limits of the sanitary and protection zone of “Tsentrobeton” Ltd.  Besides, because of the recent widening of the auto road (Bokeykhanov street), mass-scale tree cuts are taking place, and the distance between the houses and the road shrinks. Reconstruction of the auto road in the sanitary and protection zone will lead to significant worsening of the environmental situation and growth of social tension. Protests of the residents against the road expansion and tree cuts are being ignored, in particular, by the territorial department of the MOOS (Ministry of Environmental Protection).
 
We demand to bring the sanitary and protection zone of “Tsentrobeton” Ltd into a proper condition in a strict compliance with the requirements of the environmental legislation as soon as possible.
 
We demand to prevent the violations of the environmental legislation during the road reconstruction project on the Bokeykhanov street which goes through a residential area for hundreds of people.
 
5. In the city of Almaty, a high-voltage power line for 110kV was built in the micro district Gorniy Gigant and MVD (Ministry of Internal Affaires) campus with the most blatant violations of the legislation and despite of the public opinion. This case was responded by a decision II/5a of the Meeting of the Parties of the Aarhus Convention. Despite of this fact, almost thousand people are forced to live in a restricted area of the 110kV power line for more than eight years already. The public authorities admitted that the construction was illegal and promised to switch the air line to an underground cable, but this never took place.
 
We demand to bring the restricted zone of the power line into a proper condition in a strict compliance with the requirements of the environmental legislation as soon as possible. We demand a precise execution of the decision II/5a of the Meeting of the Parties of the Aarhus Convention and adoption of any correspondent normative legal acts which provide an effective participation of the public in the process of decision making.
 
6. Starting from 2007, in Zhetysu district of the city of Almaty (Burundaiskaya and Palladin streets), banks of the passing through the district Sultanka creek are being intensively polluted. The water-protection strip, creek valley, and numerous springs are being buried under dirt and construction waste. The land patches artificially formed from the garbage are used for construction of illegal housing. In 2010, the specialized inter-regional administrative court admitted the facts of illegal land occupation and pronounced more than twenty judgments about compulsory demolition of the illegal housing. However, law enforcement officers do not hurry to execute the decision of the court which gives the violators a confidence of impunity.  Seizure of territory is continuing, the water protection strip is being buried under the dirt more and more intensively, unauthorized construction development is not ceasing, amount of the household waste is increasing, and sanitary condition of the territory is deteriorating. T
he ecological situation in the valley of Sultanka creek is rapidly deteriorating.
 
We demand, in the shortest time possible, to bring the water protection zone and strip of Sultanka creek in a proper condition in a strict compliance with the requirements of environmental legislation.
 
7. In 2004, AES Ust-Kamenogorsk thermoelectric plant launched an ash dump No.3 which sanitary-protection zone is a home to several hundred people. At the public hearings, an overwhelming majority of the people voted against construction of the ash dump, but the people's opinion was ignored, and the sanitary protection zone was reduced from 500 m to just a few meters. During the construction, 140 houses were damaged.
 
We demand, in the shortest time possible, to bring the sanitary protection zone of the ash dump No.3 in a proper condition in strict compliance with the requirements of environmental legislation.
 
8. A combined reference book of maximum permissible emissions (MPE) was developed for the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk on the city budget expense. However, it has not been approved. As a result, competent authorities and the public do not possess of a tool to fight against enterprises-polluters.
 
We demand the combined reference book of MPE to be approved.

We have listed only a few problems, but their immediate solution affects well-being of many thousands of people. Unfortunately, these problems are typical for our country. Our organization receives hundreds of reports on violations of environmental legislation resulting in the worsening ecological situation, human rights are violated, people are being discriminated based on a property status and place of residence.

We would like to draw your attention to the fact that significant deficiencies of the national legislation hinder realization of the citizens rights:
 
- lack of uniform interpretation of provisions of the Aarhus Convention by the public authorities of the Republic of Kazakhstan;
 
- lack of a mechanism for public participation in a decision-making process;
 
- lack of a procedure of accounting of public opinion;
 
- contradictions in a number of legal acts, such as “Rules for conducting public hearings”, to the requirements of the Aarhus Convention;
 
- the environmental legislation lacks of provisions on OBLIGATION of the public authorities to file lawsuits to a court in the interests of citizens and the STATE, for termination of business or any other activity conducted with violation of the environmental legislation.
 
We hope that the listed VIOLATIONS of the environmental legislation of the country, including those indicated in the decisions II/5a, III/6c, and IV/9c of the Meetings of the Parties of the Aarhus Convention, will be addressed by the entrusted to you Ministry in a strict compliance with the legislation and the Aarhus Convention.
 
Not only this will positively impact the image of Kazakhstan on the international arena, but will also improve the ecological situation, and will be welcomed by the citizens whose rights have been violated, will cease the discrimination.
 

Please, inform us on what measures and in what time frames will be taken to address these problems.


Chairman of the Ecological Society “Green Salvation” S.Kuratov.
58 Shagabutdinov street, appt.28, Almaty, Republic of Kazakhstan
Tel. 7 (727) 253 62 56, е-mail: grsalmati@gmail.com


Representatives of
the public organization “Zhassyl dala” S. Anossova.
Berezovka village, Burlinskiy district, West-Kazakhstan oblast, Republic of Kazakhstan


Representative of
an international organization Crude Accountability S.Solyanik.
P.O. Box 2345 Alexandria, VA 22301, USA
Tel./Fax: 703-299-0854, kate@crudeaccountability.org


The letter was also supported by:
Initiative group of the residents of Bokeykhanov street, city of Almaty:
Gatina L.A.,
Gmerintseva M.V.,
Shibunova N.V.,
Fomina T.,
Panchenko V.,
Timoshenko O.,
Borbat A.