Construction of Georgia’s Namakhvani hydropower plant cancelled

22 September 2021
‘No to Namakhvani Dam’. A protest against the Namakhvani project in Kutaisi in March. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Turkish construction firm Enka Renewables has terminated its contract with the Georgian government to build an $800 million hydropower plant in western Georgia, Turkish media has reported.

The company announced on Tuesday that they had pulled out of the project due to ‘breaches of contract’ by the Georgian Government and force majeure, an event or circumstance beyond the control of both parties.

The project had proved controversial triggering protests led by the grassroots Save the Rioni Valley movement since late October, leading to government promises to revisit the project.

The news came after almost 11 months of permanent protests in the western Imereti Region, where the energy project was planned, and days after protest leaders announced they were pulling out of mediation under the European Energy Community.

Critics of the project, including several major opposition parties, have claimed that the environmental impacts and potential safety of the project had not been adequately studied, and that it threatened the valley’s unique local ecosystem. The government has dismissed such claims insisting that the proper due diligence had been done.

Davit Chipashvili from the Tbilisi-based Green Alternative, an environmental group opposed to the project, said the grassroots movement against Namakhvani had ‘played a decisive role’ in the cancellation.

‘In fact, we expected this [decision] because Enka was not involved in the mediation anyway. When the mediation started in June, Enka refused to participate or even state their position, and this was a serious signal’,  Chipashvili told OC Media.