Serious law violations in Soyudlu not mentioned by the Cabinet of Ministers

Serious law violations in Soyudlu not mentioned by the Cabinet of Ministers

Although there is a lot of talk about the law violations committed by the “Azerbaijan International Mining Company Limited” in conducting mining operations in our country, the level of awareness of what these violations are is not enough in our society. It is stated that ecological norms were violated, the prohibited chemical means were used, and people’s lives were endangered, but concrete facts have not been revealed.

President Ilham Aliyev took the issue under his personal control and instructed the Cabinet of Ministers to create a commission, fully investigate the issue and report on the results. On July 11, during his speech at the meeting dedicated to the socio-economic results of the 6th month of this year, the head of state stated that the creation of environmental problems by a foreign company, the destruction of nature, the occupation of people’s fields and pastures, and the creation of a second waste lake without obtaining permission from anywhere is unacceptable, and he asked who gave permission for this. The president said that “it seems that either they made a deal with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, or they did it on their own, so it should be seriously investigated.”

The interesting aspect of the matter is that it was after the President’s order that the Prime Minister created a commission and appointed the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources as its head. Although the commission conducted an investigation for some time, the subsequent statements gave the impression to the public that the authorities were trying to cover up the problem. As Ilham Aliyev rightly pointed out, nothing was understood from the statements made at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, and it was not possible to draw concrete conclusions from the briefing of Minister Mukhtar Babayev. The question remains open, where were the Cabinet of Ministers, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Emergency Situations looking? Most importantly, why was there no clear conclusion after the given tasks? Probably, these issues will be clarified sooner or later.

According to the information obtained by “Qafqazinfo”, it is clear that there are serious violations of the law in the activities of both individual state bodies and “Azerbaijan International Mining Company Limited”.

Back in 1997, on the basis of the agreement concluded between “Azergizil State Company” and “Azerbaijan International Mining Company Limited” company, 300 hectares of land was leased to the latter for conducting mining and ore operations in Gadabey region. In 1998, the agreement entered into force with the Decree of the President of Azerbaijan. According to the agreement, although the company was given the exclusive right to conduct mining and ore operations on those 300 hectares, it was required to build roads, build buildings, facilities and other similar activities in accordance with the laws of Azerbaijan.

In 2000, after the liquidation of “Azergizil” State Company, the enterprises subordinated to it were placed under the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. In the following period, the company will prepare a work program, budget documents, reports, etc. Presented to the body headed by Mukhtar Babayev. As of now, 4 plants have been built by “Azerbaijan International Mining Company Limited”, and since 2009, gold and copper processing has been carried out. Although at the initial stage, the wastewater was carried out directly at the processing plant, in 2012 a new reservoir was built for this purpose near the village of Söyudlü, located 6.8 km from the processing area. It is interesting that the construction of the reservoir was not agreed with any official body. In addition, in 2021, the company appealed to the Prime Minister and asked for approval to use 78 hectares of the total land area allocated as a landfill. The Cabinet of Ministers changed the designation of 49 hectares of agricultural land in May 2023 and gave it to the company after receiving the opinions of various state institutions. It is interesting that Söyüdlü municipality did not raise the issue of changing the designation of that land, and even expressed its objection to it. But the Cabinet of Ministers gave the municipal land to the company on the basis of its order, without its authority.

Thus, contrary to the country’s legislation, without a document on land allocation in the territory of Gadabay district, without the approval of the projects by the relevant state body, and without official permission for construction, based only on the opinion of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, 4 factories, artificial water pipes and pipes for the discharge of toxic cyanide were illegally built in the territory of the agricultural villages of Arikhdam and Söyüdlü, on the shared lands allocated to citizens. However, according to the rules, the administrative act of Gadabey RIH, which was agreed with the relevant state authorities and accepted for the construction permit, had to be sent to the State Agency for Construction Safety Control of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and the construction permit had to be given by the agency. In fact, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources did not prevent illegal construction, nor did the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources supervise the construction and operation of mining and other purpose-built facilities, nor did the then Real Estate Committee, as a body that monitors the illegal seizure and use of land outside its intended purpose, nor did the Gadabey Regional Development Authority prevent these violations. Nobody ever even tried.

It is known that the company “Azerbaijan International Mining Company Limited” has built two waste dumps in the territory of Gadabey district, one of them is in the territory of Soyudlu village. In May 2012, the Gadabey district court issued a decision on the transfer of 70 hectares of agricultural land of Söyudlü municipality to the company, even though there was no document for the land plot where the first landfill was located. That fake decision was not even sent to the state authorities.

One of the interesting aspects of the matter is related to the use of poisonous cyanide acid. It should be noted that according to the legislation since it is a toxic substance, approval for its use in the production process is given by the Ministry of Internal Affairs after obtaining the opinion of the Ministry of Health. But no such approval was received from the MIA. Although an order of the Cabinet of Ministers was required to bring him to the country, there was no such document. Although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs agreed to the transportation of those dangerous cargoes, it did not request permission to obtain them.

It becomes clear that the main culprits of the incident in the village of Söyüdlü, on the one hand, are the government agencies, and on the other hand the “Azerbaijan International Mining Company Limited” company. If the Cabinet of Ministers, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and the Executive Power of Gadabey District had fulfilled their duties and had not created conditions for illegal activities, the residents of Söyüdlü village would not have stood up and there would not have been a conflict. It goes without saying that the behavior of the villagers, especially the aggression against the police, can never be justified. But it is necessary to understand the people who are left helpless, whose grazing land is occupied, who cannot graze livestock or harvest crops, and on the other hand, their health is in danger. As President Ilham Aliyev noted, “People have rightly raised their voices of protest, but has anyone listened to their voices? No! One day, two days, three days, five days, where was the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources looking? Didn’t they know there was such a problem? Either they knew and closed their eyes, or they didn’t know. Neither is acceptable. It is true that a part of the citizens followed the provocateurs and committed obscene actions and committed illegal actions, and this is intolerable and unacceptable.”

Yes, one irresponsibility leads to another irresponsibility, one violation leads to another violation, one crime leads to another crime. Everyone should do their job responsibly so that the Söyüdlü incident does not happen again.


This article originally appeared on Qafaqazinfo on July 25, 2023.