Statement of the Public Defender Regarding Natural Disaster in Tbilisi

The Public Defender of Georgia expresses his deep sadness with regards to a natural disaster that occurred in Tbilisi on June 13-14 and extends his condolences to families of those deceased. Loss suffered by relatives of the deceased and entire Georgia is irreparable. According to current information, residents affected by the disaster suffered great financial damage. Several families were left without roof. Tbilisi Zoo also suffered great losses. Part of the city’s infrastructure is also in a grave state.

Coordinated and instantaneous response of various government agencies to the occurred events should be applauded. In this difficult situation, first of all, results of the disaster should be promptly eliminated and families afflicted by the disaster should be aided relevantly. Also, identification of animals that were left outside the Zoo and their safe return to the Zoo should continue within the limits of possibility. In all these directions, coordinated efforts have paramount importance. The Public Defender of Georgia will monitor the said process through methods at his disposal.

It is important to immediately start work and promptly determine exact reasons that caused the natural disaster. It is these reasons that should be taken into account when restoring the damaged infrastructure in order to prevent repetition of the same mistakes if such confirmed. With participation of professionals of relevant spheres it should be determined to what extent water drainage pipes of Vere Gorge provide discharge capacity for the river flooded as a result of heavy precipitation in order to rule out similar tragedies in the future.

The unfolded tragedy once again confirms that government policy should be oriented at maximal prevention of such incidents while decisions on all infrastructural projects should be made taking into account long-term outcomes. When preparing infrastructural projects examination of environmental issues have vital importance that was repeatedly stressed by the Public Defender over the course of last two years. The process of city planning, scheduled constructions, various infrastructural projects and evaluation of their impact on the environment should become a subject of special discussion. Opinions of professionals of relevant spheres should be taken into account. The Public Defender has many times emphasized these issues even before.

I express hope that the above sad event will be a decisive point in this direction. It is a fact that in last three years, number of people deceased as a result of flood or landslide processes, including in Kazbegi and now for the second time in the capital city, is alarming. This situation is made even more alarming, first of all, by a fact that with regards to all those events there are legitimate and so far unanswered questions that maybe issues of assessment of environmental impact were ignored when implementing various infrastructural projects. According to the paragraph 4 of the article 37 of the Constitution of Georgia, “with the view of ensuring safe environment, in accordance with ecological and economic interests of society, with due regard to the interests of the current and future generations the state shallguarantee the protection of environment and the rational use of nature”. While according to the paragraph 5 of the same article, “a person shall have the right to receive a complete, objective and timely information as to a state of his/her working and living environment”. In accordance with the said constitutional obligation, the state should provide the society with complete and objective information on natural disasters, including the tragedy that took place in Tbilisi in recent days, its causes and steps taken for their elimination.


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