February/March 1990 Issue #4 * ECOLOGIA NEWSLETTER Archive

February/March 1990 Issue #4


"We, the Altai Salvation Committee and all environmentalists of the USSR appeal to you! The Altai needs your support and help!

"The USSR Ministry of the Power Industry is planning to build a series of water-power plants and a large water reservoir on the upper Katun River, the main waterway of the Altai. A dire threat looms over this unique virgin place that is valuable not only for the USSR but also for the whole world. The Katun River Valley is famous for its cliffs and rocks covered with ancient inscriptions, pictures and shrines. The planned 180 meter dam and water reservoir, as Pasley Samuk, an Altai writer, put it, 'will not only drown our past by flooding two thousand kurgans (ancient burial mounds) but also ruin our future.'

"The planned water reservoir would flood deposits of mercury, cadmium, and arsenic, thus polluting the municipal water supply of Altai as well as that of the major cities Novosibirsk and Barnaul. The unique climatic spa of Chemal would be destroyed, gone would be the river valleys with numerous local medicinal herbs, and the climatic conditions would deteriorate severely throughout Asia.

"The only alternative is ecologically clean water generation. Hydro- electric and thermal power plants are not the best energy source for villages and sites of the Altai highlands, as mountain power transmission lines are inefficient and unsafe. Nevertheless construction at the Katun water-power plant site has already begun.

"Join the campaign to save the Altai! Support the project to secure the future of this region. Write letters to the leaders in charge of this decision, urging them to:

  1. Stop construction of the Katun water-power plant.
  2. Proclaim the Katun River Valley a UNESCO world cultural and natural heritage area.
  3. . Grant the Altai Highlands the status of a national park.
  4. Convene an international conference on ecologically clean power generation before any new decisions are made concerning the construction of hydro-electric, thermal or nuclear power plants. Representatives of Green Parties should be invited to such a conference which should take place as soon as possible in Moscow."

V. Geidt from Novosibirsk, a Member of the Committee to Save the Katun and Altai, writes in An Appeal to the Conscience of the International Community:

"The final decision on the Katun project rests with the Council of the Ministers of the Russian Federation and of the USSR. Unfortunately, in the Soviet Union, expert commissions do not have veto rights. [Governmental expert commissions in 1987, 1988 and 1989 had all recommended against the project because of its high cost, economic inefficiency , threats to the environment and health.] As a result the technocracy, that product of the command- administrative system, is continuing its attempts to push forward this project, regardless of the strong protests of numerous scientists and of the community at large.

"Because the Katun project threatens to do irremediable damage to the unique historical, cultural and natural region which is the Altai Mountain area, it must speak to the conscience of the world. In turn, this conscience could express itself in a demand that the Katun Valley be placed on the UNESCO register of World Heritage sites and in an appeal to the highest levels of government in the Soviet Union, to Gorbachev, Ryzhkov and Vlasov in the Kremlin, to show the wisdom of the state by putting an end forever to the idea of building a hydro-electric dam on the Katun River."

The Altai Salvation Committee is asking concerned people to send letters opposing the Katun River Dam Project to:

1. Aleksandr Vlasov
Chairman, Council of Ministers, R.S.F.S.R.
Krasnopresnenskaya UL 2
Moscow 103274, U.S.S.R.

2. Nikolai Ryzkov
Chairman, U.S.S.R. Council of Ministers
The Kremlin, Moscow, U.S.S.R.

3. Nikolai Vorontsov
Chairman, Goskompriroda
103009 Moscow, U.S.S.R.
Ul. Nezhdanovoy, # 1

4. Mikhail Gorbachev
President of the U.S.S.R.
General Secretary of the CPSU
Staraya Square, 4
Moscow, U.S.S.R.

For further information on the organized opposition to the Katun River Dam Project, contact:

Maria Cherkasova, Socio-Ecological Union
Council of the Union
Malaya Bronnaya, 12, Apt. 12
Moscow U.S.S.R. 103104

V. Geidt
Member of the Committee to Save the Katun and Altai
U.S.S.R. 630117
Novosibirsk 117
Ul. Polevaya 16, Apt. 5

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