As the proposed Altai Gas Pipeline to China across Altai’s Ukok Plateau looks increasingly likely, a new coalition of Russian, Altaian, and international community groups and scientists has been established!
Here’s a press release with all the initial details. Stay tuned for more news about the Coalition’s efforts.
On January 22, the inter-regional Save Ukok Coalition of community and scientific organizations from Tomsk and Novosibirsk Oblasts, Altai Krai, Altai Republic, and Moscow was established.
The coalition was created in response to plans by publicly-held Gazprom to build the “Altai” mainline pipeline to China through the environmentally and culturally unique Ukok Plateau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Coalition participants plan to collect and synthesize the opinions of leading experts regarding the project’s negative ecological, ethnologically sacred, cultural, historical, and geopolitical aspects and to share them with Russia’s general public
and the world. The coalition believes that such large projects must be planned and realized only with public participation and with the agreement of all affected parties, in particular local residents, in accordance with Russian law.
Since its inception, this project has encountered a wide array of sensitive issues and almost unavoidable negative consequences. The failure to consider those consequences and the perspective of project opponents, as well as a failure to consider alternative routes has already result in large-scale protests by residents. Over 25,000 signatures have been forwarded to the Russian President in defense of Ukok. Moreover, during a 2008 Session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, the committee approved a Decision expressing concern about plans to build a pipeline across the Ukok Plateau. Unfortunately, project initiators continue to ignore public opinion and the stance of specialists affirming the project’s environmental threats and economic unfeasibility.
Despite the project backer assurances, there are serious doubts about the importance of such a project in terms of Russia’s economic development and trade relations with regard to China.
Many official news sources are significantly distorting the position of Ukok Plateau conservation supporters, and the social benefits of this project are unduly exaggerated as well. The public is especially disturbed by the resolute unwillingness of Gazprom and government officials lobbying the project to enter into any kind of constructive dialog.
Coalition participants are taking the principled position that unique lands like the Ukok Plateau or Lake Baikal are important not only to Siberia and Russia, but to the entire world as a whole. It was this importance that caused the Ukok Plateau to be included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site designation of the “Golden Mountains of Altai.”
The Coalition’s goal is to persuade Gazprom to change the route of the Altai Gas Pipeline away from the Ukok Plateau in favor of an alternative route.
More information can be obtained by contacting Oksana Engoyan, +8 (923) 647-60-87, e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org