Russia: Major new gas pipeline to China to be built without impact assessment
On 18 June 2014, the business newspaper RBC Daily reported:
"Construction of the first section of the new major gas pipeline 'the Power of Siberia' will start in late August 2014. Pipes of large diameter will be transported to the construction site beginning in July", the company announced in a press release.
"We have a clear plan of action. All tasks are assigned, and we have set hard deadlines. “Our goal is to weld, the first leg of 'Power of Siberia' already in August” , - Alexey Miller, chair of Gazprom’s Board said today at a company meeting. At present, Gazprom’s specialists have completed the preparation of the project documentation on objects of gas production and for the first section of the pipeline - from the Chayandirskoye deposit to the city of Lensk"
This announcement is very disturbing. Development of project documentation "is being completed”, and the tubes will be delivered to the construction site "in July", and welding them will begin already in August". Everything is so clear and simple, that it feels creepy.
When will the ecological expert review be undertaken, which according to the law takes three months? When will public hearings be held, and when will the pipeline routes be agreed with indigenous and local communities?
Although the gas pipeline will run along the route of the existing long distance pipeline Eastern Siberia—Pacific Ocean, a new giant gas pipeline construction with a total length of about 4,000 km (Yakutia - Khabarovsk - Vladivostok — about 3,200 km, Irkutsk Region to Yakutia — about 800 km), will inevitably have a negative impact on the livelihoods and traditional subsistence activities of the indigenous and local communities.
The pipeline route is ramified, the pipeline will be accompanied by complex infrastructure. It is obvious that the surrounding natural and social environment of this huge region will be radically changed during the implementation of this megaproject. Are there any public discussions happening on the impact of the individual sections of the project "Power of Siberia" in the regions where it is to be implemented? Do representatives of indigenous and local communities, whose traditional lands will be directly affected participate in them? Did the Gazprom obtain the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of indigenous peoples living in this vast region, as required by international norms and principles? Still, these questions remain unanswered.
Local communities need to carefully observe developments around the construction of the "Power of Siberia" and to be on the guard. The strange logistics of the first stage set out in the above citation - first to lay the pipe and to conduct the ecological expert review only later is of great concern. Will the construction be carried out in compliance with the legal requirements and the rights and interests of indigenous and local communities as set out in international human rights instruments, the Global Compact’s business reference guide on indigenous peoples, the UNDRIP and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights? After all, the gas pipeline project "Power of Siberia" is an international project, and respect for human rights of indigenous is our shared responsibility.
Tags: Climate action