Nikol Pashinyan instructs to set up a task force to report on the actual state of affairs in the disaster zone
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Chaired by Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the Government of Armenia today held an outgoing session at the Town Hall of Gyumri, dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Spitak earthquake. Before discussing the agenda items, those in attendance held a minute of silence in commemoration of the 1988 Spitak earthquake victims.
Proceeding to the agenda, the Executive approved the Government’s legislative initiative on the draft law On Amending the RA Law on Holidays and Remembrance Days. The bill provides that December 7 should be marked as Day of Remembrance and Disaster Resistance.
“By this decision, we state the need to increase the level of disaster prevention and protection in Armenia,” Nikol Pashinyan said, noting that for this purpose it is necessary to have a strategy and a clear program of activities.
Acting Minister of Emergency Situations Felix Tsolakyan advised that many of those countries that had participated in rescue and reconstruction efforts in the disaster zone were prepared to mark the day in their countries as well.
Acting Minister of Territorial Administration and Development Suren Papikyan reported back the activities carried out in the disaster zone in 2018 and the work to be done during 2019. In 2018, 774,425.0 thousand drams have been allocated to Shirak and Lori Marzes within the framework of priority issues in the regions. AMD 354,915.0 thsd. AMD was allocated to Shirak Marz, 419,510.0 thousand - to Lori Marz.
The amount was allocated for implementation of 54 projects in 45 settlements. Within the framework of the same project, several communities in Shirak and Lori Marzes have been allocated 31,773.0 thousand and 11,200,000 thousand respectively. The Ministry of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies allocated 222,654.7 thousand drams for the repair of 4 roads in Shirak and Lori Marzes. Works will be continued in 2019.
Through the Armenian Fund for Regional Development 7 projects are being implemented in these Marzes, of which 2 will be completed in 2019. The total cost of the programs is 1,939,574.1 thousand AMD. AMD 1,207,377.4 thsd. AMD was allocated to Shirak marz - AMD 732,196.7 thousand. AMD to Lori marz.
About 1,082,100.0 thousand drams have been allocated under the Gyumri Municipal Roads Technical Cooperation Grant Program, implemented with the support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). In cooperation with the EU, regional pilot projects are being implemented in Shirak and Lori Marzes.
Head of Urban Development Committee Avetik Eloyan gave details of construction work implemented in the disaster zone during 2018 and to be carried out in 2019. According to the report, 5381 families have been recognized as beneficiaries in Shirak, Lori and Aragatsotn Marzes within the framework of state-supported housing program to solve housing problems for families left homeless in disaster zones, of which 4839 housing problems were solved in 2008-2017, approximately 65 billion drams.
The Government’s 2018-2022 Program provides that the State should have complied with the commitments assumed before the remaining 542 families by the end of 2020. 44 more households will be accommodated in the rural settlements of Lori Marz using the 460.0 million drams allocated from the State Budget in 2018. As a result, 498 families will still be facing housing problems that call for about 3.5 billion drams. At the same time, AMD 560.0 million has been envisaged in the State Budget in 2019.
In addition, the respective community leaders should carry out the documentation of all non-basic buildings, as a result of which the graphic and tabular materials should be drawn up, with the relevant information to be submitted to the Urban Development Committee and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development by the end of the year. Based on the certification results, recommendations should be drawn to release territories from non-basic constructions and legalize buildings conforming to town-planning requirements by the end of next June. About AMD 460.1 million was allocated from the State Budget to complete the construction and reconstruction of educational, cultural and sports facilities in 2018.
The outgoing Cabinet sitting next discussed the problems of homeless people in the disaster zone. Head of Urban Development Committee Avetik Eloyan noted that the government has an outstanding commitment before 498 families. According to him, there may be inaccuracies in the presented figures, so it is necessary to carry out research and documentary work to find out the actual number of families in need of housing.
Mayor of Gyumri Samvel Balasanyan reported that the number of temporary shelters registered in Armenia is 2856, 456 of which are not inhabited. “Besides, there are 1014 registered users who have not been registered because they did not submit the required documents. There were many families whose families had moved to a new apartment, some of them stayed in the cabin, there were people who immigrated to Gyumri, bought a cottage, got registered and lived, there are families renting those cottages,” Samvel Balasanyan said.
Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in this connection: “Today, on Earthquake’s 30th anniversary, we can formulate our biggest challenge: we do not have an estimate of the work to be done and the funds required to that effect. Note that due consideration should be given to infrastructure, roads, schools, kindergartens, etc.”
The Acting Head of Government instructed to set up a task force to deal with registration issues and report back the actual state of affairs in the disaster zones. The Task Force shall report to the Prime Minister on the work done every two months.
“We keep talking about the disaster zone, housing problems, but we do not know what we are talking about. Therefore, you should form a task force with a clear-cut objective: to draw up a disaster zone package with accurate figures and a definite roadmap so that we could understand what needs to be done, how much money and time is needed to tackle the problem in the context of the ongoing processes,” Nikol Pashinyan emphasized.
“We need a clear-cut strategic document along with a relevant roadmap. The strategy should answer the question of government’s responsibility. The answer to this question should not be unilateral; it should affect the government, the local administrations and civil society representatives. We must see clear-cut milestones in our commitments. If the debate does not come to a consensus, we will have to take a political decision based on the law and relevant government resolutions,” Nikol Pashinyan emphasized, noting: “We know that the consequences of the December 7 earthquake have not been eliminated so far, and we do not know what volume of work we need to accomplish. Consequently, the aforementioned task force should formulate the answer to these questions as quickly as possible and it should be a strategic document. We also do not have a strategy to work with benefactors. Please remember that the disaster zone is not just Gyumri, but the whole affected area. Of course, Gyumri was the focus of devastation, destruction and relief, but we need to have an idea of what we mean by saying disaster zone.”