Georgia

Georgia: Landslide inflicts serious damage

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The government started to assess the damage, inflicted by a landslide on January 8 to Lasuriashi village of Tsageri region.

There were no casualties, however the disaster rendered 60 families homeless. Now this picturesque mountain village of Lasuriashi faces a threat to be deserted completely.

It is estimated that the natural disaster in the mountain village in the northwest part of Georgia caused damage of at least 7 million Lari (3,3 million USD), destroying houses, a bridge, roads and electric power lines, as well as the village's cemetery.

The landslide destroyed farms of famous grape sorts "Ojaleshi", "Tsolikauri" and "Alexanderouli", which grow only in this region and will take 8-10 years to recover.

David Kanachadze's house stood right at the bottom of Nakasha mountain, from were the landslide came down. The house, were he and 4 members of his family lived, was razed to the ground. Only few steps of concrete stairs and parts of a wall of the ground floor remain there.

Although David is a young man, there is a great desperation in his eyes. But, nevertheless, David refrains from talking about his pain. David and his family found shelter at their relatives' house. Government has not provided any assistance to them so far.

The Chairperson of the Parliament Nino Burjanadze and other members of the government visited David Kanachadze and other victims. Authorities promised to assist them: at the first stage each family will receive 3,000 Laris (1,400 USD), as well as food products and necessary medications.

Deputy Minister of Energy Nugzar Uplisashvili, Chairman of the State Roads Department Boris Salaridze, the region's authorities and other representatives of the government promised villagers rapid restoration of communications.

"This is a very small assistance for the villagers indeed. But it is also very important that they feel the government's support as early as possible. Within one week the Parliament will develop and submit to the government for implementation a plan of assistance and damage recovery measures," Nino Burjanadze told Civil Georgia.

The region has one school, kindergarten and a river dam, damaged after the flooding, which require urgent rehabilitation.

Geologists need 20,000 Laris (9,500 USD) to implement necessary safety measures in the landslide risk zone. However, the Finance Ministry claims it cannot provide these funds, since the Parliament has not approved the budget for the year 2003.

"The law prohibits the Finance Ministry to pay for geological, or similar types of work, until the budget is approved. As soon as the Budget 2003 is approved, we will allocate the funds promptly. Besides, the Lasuriashi landslide disaster action plan will have highest priority," Zurab Soselia, Deputy Finance Minister, who has been accompanying Burjanadze to the disaster region, told Civil Georgia.

In connection with destruction of the cemetery, the Sanitation-Epidemic services conducted study of the disaster area and concluded that there is no threat of epidemic diseases.

All these activities, as well as government's numerous promises have given some hope to David Kanachadze and other victims.

The Parliament intends to monitor the implementation of its action plan regarding the affected area very closely. In one month the Parliament Bureau will hear and examine report on activities, conducted by all authorities involved in recovery of the disaster region.

By Goga Chanadiri

United Nations Association of Georgia
© UNA-Georgia