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Landslide Has Damaged Sighnaghi; Local Residents Urge for help

December 29, 2007
Sighnaghi is attacked by natural disaster. The landslide has destroyed part of the main road at the entrance to the town and damaged nearly 40 houses. Representatives of the Environmental Ministry have already explored the area. Geologists concluded that because of extremely complicated engineer-geological situation, thorough explorations should be carried out in Sighnaghi. They should carry out various activities to prevent the land sliding and it will take long time. Meanwhile, as specialists claim, the landslide might become more active and many towns might be threatened with the natural disaster.

According to the official information, with the initiative of the former Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, in 2007 the infrastructure of Sighnaghi was rehabilitated. In fact, only those districts were reconstructed where foreign tourists often arrive. The administration of the Kakheti Region Governor declares that nearly 15 million lari was spent from the state budget to reconstruct the town. According to the reliable sources the exact amount of allocated sum is much larger and most part of it was not spent on the rehabilitation works. According to the local residents, despite their numerous appeals, nobody paid attention to the area which is mostly threatened with landslide.

“We warned the construction companies that the land was moving down and asked them to inform authorities about the situation but in vain. Both district and regional administrations had information about the situation because Gia Natsvlishvili, Regional Governor, and his representative visited Signaghi at least every third day. Nobody paid attention to us; they only wanted to repair and paint the facades of the buildings in the town. Thus, now we are in the bad situation now,” said Gulnara Jokhadze, a resident of Sighnaghi.

According to the data received several days ago, nearly 40 houses were damaged in Sighnaghi. The part of the main street is destroyed near the village of Chalaubani.

Geologists from the Monitoring and Forecast Center within the Ministry of Environment and natural Resources arrived in Sighnaghi last week. The specialists assessed the conditions of the damaged houses and roads.

Geologists do not exclude possibility that old landslide centers will become active too that might damage more than one hundred residential houses.

“Everything is done in Georgia in “on-line regime”. It was principal for the government to reconstruct the town rapidly and then give presentations of the reconstructed Sighnaghi. The government was so happy that they opened the town at least ten times and assured people that “Sighnaghi is heart of the world,” However, without carrying out geological exploration of the area all money is wasted in vain,” said geologists when visiting Sighnaghi.

Mikheil Avaliani, the head of the Monitoring and Forecast Center, pointed out in official conversation that dangerous geological changes are not detected in the reconstructed part of Sighnaghi. “The landslide became active only in the suburbs,” defined Avaliani.

According to the Ministry of Environment, expert-geologists, in parallel to Signaghi will explore Adjara and Lechkhumi regions. “Only after that we will decide what kind of activities should be implemented to guarantee the security of the population,” stated the officials from the Ministry

Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti.