After hitting a snag, the Khudoni dam in Georgia’s mountains is back in the game threatening to expropriate private lands and to bump up electricity prices for Georgian consumers. The controversial changes in an amended contract have inflamed the passion of the Svans who have for years tried to protect their communities from flooding.
A new report published on March 10 by a team of researchers from the University of Oxford, based on the largest ever study of large hydroelectric dams (245 in 65 countries) has found that in most cases large dams are economically not viable and few, if any, will realise their planned benefits. The study assessed the costs, construction time, and benefits of all large dams built around the world since 1934, and further concluded that the severe cost and construction delays that so often dog large dams (defined in this research as those that exceed 15 metres in height) mean they can be seriously damaging to the economies that attach so much hope to them.
The growing antagonism between promoters of the Khudoni hydropower plant project in Georgia and their local opponents from Kaishi is unlikely to ease when the investor and the Georgian Ministry of Energy boycott mediation by Georgia’s Ombudsman.
Statements and behaviour of Georgian authorities show their determination to go ahead with the construction of the huge Khudoni dam that would displace more than 2000 indigenious Svans, regardless of public protests. At the same time the project company's set-up raises questions about ulterior motives.