“Gavigudet” Continues to work for Fresh air in Rustavi

There are many large and small enterprices functioning in Rustavi. Alongside with industrial production, the rate of atmospheric air pollution is  very high. Part of Rustavi’s population is employed  in enterprises. Polluted air causes  a health problem to the latter as well as to the local population as a whole.

Gagarin and David Gareji streets are the closest to the production area.  Emissions and unpleasant smell coming from the enterprises became the reason for the frequent protests of local residents as well as the noise caused by the operation of the plants.

However as these people state the situation is not that bad now compare to the previous years. The main reason for this change is the activity of the civil movement “Gavigudet” (“we suffocated”)

“We live close to the factories, somewhere in 200-300 meters, the situation is deplorable in terms of pollution, but there is a little progress compare to the past as a result of the struggle of  “Gavigudet”. It was impossible to open the windows, nearly all children have allergic background. I am allergic to this smell. This polluted air is dangerous for children. At this stage, we no longer have such a difficult situation, but it will be better if this problem is eliminated completely”. – Ekaterine Chikhladze, resident of the area located near the enterprises.

“Gavigudet” was established on volantarly bases in 2018. The main mission of the civil movement is  to make the ambient air in Rustavi as safe as possible for the health of citizens, the movement implements many important project to achieve the set goal.

“The atmospheric air portal shows that last year, for 260 days, the air quality in Rustavi was bad or very bad. Which is a catastrophic indicator. In previous years, the number of these days was even higher.

In the case of Rustavi, the major problem lies in dead dust particles and industrial pollution. This is not our imagination, the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture also notes that the production sector plays a very big role in the solid particle pollution in Rustavi, and therefore it is important that the filtration system is in order in the production sector as well as compliance with applicable regulations for various productions and with legislation.

In the case of Rustavi, it was not always like that, and in 2021, with our involvement, the amendments were made to the  legislation on air protection,  the fines were increased, and the self-monitoring system became mandatory.

It is critical that the employees breathe the most polluted air while working, and if this legislation is enforced and production process is improved, their working conditions will improve overly.

At the end of 2022, the action plan elaborated ,also, with our involvement  was summarized. The Ministry of Environment and Agriculture tells us that the air quality in our city has improved by 13-16% and also that the mass of solid particles emitted by enterprises has decreased by about 40%. However, this is a minimal progress, there is still a lot of work to be done, and of course, public involvement is essential in the given processes.

We saw that without involvement of the society till 2018, before “Gavigudet” started advocating this issue, factually no one would pay attention to the given issue – Tinatin Maghedani , activist of the civil movement “Gavigudet”.

Despite the fact that after the amendment of the air protection legislation, some enterprises have purchased a filtration system, the level of atmospheric air pollution in Rustavi is still high. According to Maghedani, there is a problem with law enforcement and often, enterprises behave unfairly. She notes that the self-monitoring system is one of the mechanisms that will considerably reduce air pollution in the city.

” The enforcement of legislation is a biggest challenge in the case of Rustavi, Some enterprises still do not have  proper filtering and self-monitoring systems. The self-monitoring is the best way to control the extent to which the enterprise uses the filtration i.e. a sensor is installed on the source of the spill, in the pipe, which automatically and continuously transmits information about the spill to the Ministry. Therefore, instead of talking about filters, it is important how many enterprises have this self-monitoring system, because the enterprise might have a filter, but at night when we can’t see it, it doesn’t work, or it doesn’t work at full load.

At this point, we have received information from the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture that  from approximately 17 active enterprises affected by these new regulations, nine have already installed self-monitoring systems, and eight are in the process of installation, or have purchased and are awaiting for their delivery. It means, we have made considerable progress in this direction. These 17 enterprises are the main polluters of the city”, – Tinatin Maghedani, civil activist.

Tinatin Maghedani, the representative of the “Gavigudet” movement, also talks about the so-called “Russian law”. She explains that the adoption of the law would make the activity of the movement impossible.

“International funds have played a great role in continuing the activities of our movement. This  support was very important, we needed help, just from experts and lawyers, we needed a meeting place, and an office, the cost of which is not cheap in Georgia. At first glance, someone may think that a certain amount of money, a grant, is large, but when they break it on administrative costs, they will realize that this funding was really required and necessary.

Funding might not have been cut if the law had been passed, but many of us, representative of the civil sector, weren’t going to register as agents to do the good work we’re doing for our country and city. The representatives of the European Union and representatives of the US embassy stated that this law would make it difficult to attract certain funding in our country and could affect our activities.

It is also noteworthy that when certain labels are attached to you with regard to the given topic and in such a city as Rustavi, it is very difficult to involve people in activism in general, and especially when you have a certain label attached. In fact, when you are presented as a person and organization doing dangerous work, it is more difficult to involve citizens. Further on these circumstances kill activism and activities covering similar issues”, – Tinatin Maghedani, civil movement “Gavigudet”.

Author: Nino Beridze

The article was created with the support of the Civil Society Institute, within the framework of the project “Civil Society Initiative: Sustainable, Open and Accountable Civil Society Organizations for the Development of Georgia” funded by the European Union and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Kvemo Kartli media is solely responsible for its content and it may not reflect the views of the EU and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

The project is implemented by a consortium led by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) together with the following non-governmental organizations – Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG), Civil Society Institute (CSI), Counseling and Training Center (CTC), Education Development and Employment Center (EDEC) and European Institute of Policy (IEP).