Last week at the Ministry of Economy auction, a 16-hectare plot of land was leased to the Dmanisi Survival Foundation. The plot is located within the industrial zone of the RMG Gold company, which planned to lease this territory, but those plans were protested by the 13 opposition parties which united to form the foundation. The parties declared that they wanted to prevent the area’s lease to RMG.
Giorgi Vashadze, one of the leaders of Dmanisi Survival Foundation, said the key tasks are to halt environmental pollution and protect the health of local residents. Environmental pollution has worsened, and the health of the local population has significantly deteriorated after RMG started operation in this area, Vashadze said.
“It is an absolute catastrophe what RMG is doing. There are polluted ores, polluted waters, rivers, residents with cancer in every second family in the Dmanisi and Bolnisi Districts. Lead content in Kachreti hit 91%. Rivers are poisoned and the fish in these rivers are inedible. These indicators have increased over the past three years. The situation has grown catastrophic in this period. Consequently, we have engaged in this process. We have established Dmanisi Survival Foundation. They wanted to transmit the 16-hectare land plot for 15,000 USD by auction. Nowhere are similarly large amounts of land sold so cheaply, not to mention the gold deposits. A joint system has been shaped – the government conspired with a private company against the people, and in this situation we back our people,” Vashadze said.
Winning the auction is one of the ways to halt RMG’s activities, he added.
“Everybody is interested in gold production… I have offices in seven countries. Any businessmen will show interest in gold mining. Our government should just announce tender, expel RMG Gold and invite normal investors, which will protect human health… this is one of the key principles. Participation in this auction is a mechanism to halt RMG,” Vashadze said.
RMG Gold explained that they did not plan to mine on this land plot, and that they need the territory to dispose of useless rocks. “This is a sterile territory and we did not plan to carry out mining works there,” a representative of the company said.
“Our company was interested in leasing this specific 16-hectare land plot by auction for a reasonable price. The recent developments show that they are trying to involve us in dirty political games, where there is no place for independent business. We knew in the company that the auction would become a part of absurd game staged by specific forces. Therefore, we have made the decision to participate in this process with the aim of exposing the genuine image of our rivals. Now the results are evident, and they have showed their genuine interests, and we will break away from this poorly-staged performance by loser politicians,” RMG representatives noted.
The company urged the government to protect private investors’ interests.
“We urge the government to ensure protection of private business from similar destructive forces based on legislation,” the RMG statement reads.
Meanwhile, official data from the Ministry of Health does not confirm that oncological conditions have worsened in neighboring territories as a result of RMG activities, as noted by Giorgi Vashadze, one of the leaders of the Dmanisi Survival Foundation.
According to the registry’s information, the number of oncological diseases has not increased: on the contrary, this number has slightly declined. Oncology professor Rema Ghvamichava explained that these statistics are some of the most reliable available.
“The Cancer Population Registry is acknowledged as is the most reliable source of data on oncology pathologies. The registry was prepared by the Center for Disease Control and launched in 2015. I am sure that the Cancer Registry is the most important project implemented in the past 10 years. It requires any clinic in any region of Georgia to transmit data to the Center for Disease Control if any malignant cancer pathology is revealed. This center accumulates statistics on diseases, and the Cancer Registry is the most reliable source for us. In the cancer registry Dmanisi District does not rank first. Tbilisi is the leader in these statistics. Adjara is second, and Imereti is third. Kvemo Kartli is not mentioned in the top positions. We have no reason not to trust the data, as the Cancer Population Registry provides the most unbiased information. I have no motivation to trust rumors. I trust only facts,” Rema Ghvamichava said.
Economic expert Andria Gvidiani says that much responsibility is laid on political parties and public organizations, because the matter involves one of the major investors in Georgia.
“Any investment is of crucial importance for the economic development of the country. I do not think it is correct when a purposeful campaign is carried out against investors, or even more so, when political parties participate in this process and this campaign receives mercantile interests. This is categorically unaccepted and any investment that is implemented in the country and promotes economic development should be maximally protected.”
“I believe both the government and public forces or political parties should be interested supporting business and carrying out business-oriented policy. Naturally, the campaign against RMG serves the interest of a specific group. Naturally, toasts are mainly voiced around the issue, and we lack rational discussion, which is categorically unacceptable,” Gvidiani said.