Investigative reporting / Kyrgyzstan

IWPR Kyrgyzstan: Controversy surrounding the water pump from Kumtor to Djeti-Oguz – newspaper “Bagyt”

30.06.2016

Residents around the Djeti-Oguz resort are outraged that the management of medical department has taken the pump for themselves which was originally intended for the residents. But the director of the resort claims otherwise. In the meantime, the water pump does not even work and as a result it cannot provide any drinking water for the residents of these villages. More details in the investigation done by Jumagul Baryktabasova from the newspaper “Bagyt”.

Jeti-Oguz: Existing pump, non-existing water – “Bagyt” newspaper


To solve the issue of clean drinking water local residents turned to the “Kumtor” company which promptly donated a water pump. The resort however has clandestinely taken the pump for themselves and to add insult to injury the device does not even work.

Author: Jumagul Baryktabasova, “Bagyt” newspaper correspondent of the Issyk-Kul region. This investigation was prepared in cooperation with the journalistic investigation bureau of the IWPR.

The issue of clean drinking water has been plaguing the Jeti-Oguz resort for many years even leading people to drink water from the irrigation canal. Residents claim that in the summer the irrigation canal is replete with clay. As a result, most of them carry water from the springs inside the resort territory.

We recently reported on the issue of clean drinking water around the Jeti-Oguz resort which has been lingering for several years. The following report deals with this issue.

Burulkan Jumayeva has been resident in the resort since 1987 holding multiple positions throughout the years. She has read the news of about 1 million Som being granted to 85 houses in the Jeti-Oguz resort in order to build water pumps. She then informed the residents of the villages and afterwards called the Bishkek office of “Kumtor” and spoke with a male employee called Uran. Uran promised to investigate the matter and reply within 15 days. After not receiving any answer at all the residents personally showed up at the Bishkek office of “Kumtor”. This all took place on the 10th January of 2015. The girl who worked at the office then forwarded their claim per fax to the central office. “We took our small children with us to the Kumtor office. We spent the whole time there. We almost started crying when we saw our children playing the fancy office building which they had never witnessed in their lives. They suggested that we leave but we did not agree.

Funds were running short and we just wanted to hear their answer before leaving. It was only later that we received their reply. Kumtor had apparently sent a large amount of equipment. We returned to the Lake Issyk Kul and asked the Director of the resort Isakmatov on the whereabouts of the equipment. He replied by saying “go ahead, take whatever’s left and leave”. Matter of fact is, there was nothing left. Why didn’t the resort directorate inform anyone about the arrival of the pumps? The workers told us that instead of finding clean drinking water they found radon water. It turns out that after us, the resort director and the chairman of the Jeti-Oguz village council Aldayarov wrote a letter to “Kumtor”. Aldayarov sent a letter without the signatures of 21 MPs. Who does he think he is writing an official letter without any register? They received the pump on the 13th of January and we only accidentally found out about it a year later”, – they said.

We have addressed the director of the Jeti-Oguz resort Isakmatov regarding this issue. He did not hide the fact that he received almost 1 million (894,380 Som) in equipment from “Kumtor”. Outside of that he received another million Som from the fund of the federal union of development in order to complete the work of pumping water. For that he hired a company from Sokuluk to drill the ground for which he paid 763,000 Som and showed us the calculated value. “ The company “Kumtor” did not give us any money. They only gave us the equipment. They provided and installed solar-powered batteries for free. We currently owe the union 40 thousand Som as we have already paid the rest. Workers from “Kumtor” even come here. We wrote them a letter emphasizing our dependence on clean drinking water. They provided us with water pumps including its equipment. When we tried drilling the ground to extract water the sand proved to be troublesome. Now we are making another attempt”, – he replied.

The “Kumtor” company replied in the following manner: “On the 1st of February 2013 we received a letter from the villagers living around Jeti-Oguz sanatorium from the KGK JAK No. 3485. In this letter the villagers implored us for the provision of water. In 2013 our employees visited the area and determined that the river water did not meet the sanitary norms. They further determined that the technical equipment of the Kumtor enterprise was not suitable for drilling boreholes and thus could not carry out the request of the villagers.

On 3rd of June 2013 the director of the Jeti-Oguz resort Isakmatov, together with the chairman of the Jeti-Oguz district Aldayarov requested the assistance of a company to install these newly purchased water pumps in order to provide clean drinking water to its inhabitants. The drilling of a borehole was done at the cost of the resort. Seeing that this initiative was a joint project and taking into consideration that both sides wanted equal benefit, KGK JAK helped reaching an agreement. Aldayarov then issued a warranty letter and made it known that the multi-storey building which nearby the Jeti-Oguz resort would be provided for with water.

As evidenced by the letter, Isakmatov and Aldayarov mentioned the not only the needs of the resort but also the needs of the inhabitants who required water. Aldayarov then promised that house No.24 would provide water. However, according to the inhabitants’ house No.24 had already been providing water since 1960. If that is the case, then why was it mentioned in the letter? The Kumtor private property institutions have shown no intention of helping. The Federation of Trade Unions stressed that the money that was granted to Kumtor was solely for raising the living standards of the inhabitants. The resort director however mentions that when he wrote the letter to “Kumtor”, he was only obligated to provide water for the resort guests and not the inhabitants around it.

On 26th of January 2015, 24 people signed a written complaint to A. Toktomambetov. He is the head Kyrgyz Republic’s committee for state safety for the Issyk-Kul region in the Jeti-Oguz district. This issue was furthered to the Jeti-Oguz regional prosecution on the 16th of February 2015. Their reply was as follows: “894,380 Som was granted to Isakmatov and Aldayarov for the installation of water pumps of which 750,000 was spent on drilling a borehole. An inspection has already been conducted and we have found no suspicious activity. If you are not satisfied with this decision then you should head to the district’s prosecutor’s office”.

We went to the district’s prosecutor’s office and had our case regarding the institution of private property examined whereupon they decided that they bore no responsibility. But for whatever reason the regional prosecution examined the institution and clarified that they found no violation of the law.

We talked with the representatives of the national security committee and they regarded the resort as a private property institution. Once, we even heard that the government authorities had no right to examine the case.

In the pursuit of truth, the people even filed a complaint to the parliament. They submitted their complaint to the prosecutor general. The Prosecutor general in turn forwarded the case to the regional prosecutor and now it is being sent to the financial police. By using this dizzying method of “roundabouts” the resort dodges any kind of responsibility. The reason being such that the resort re-registered itself as a private property institution in 2012. That is why the Federation of Trade Unions cannot inspect the institution without a permit. Article 222 of the Kyrgyz Civic Code and the 4th paragraph, 21st Article of the legal code of the trade union protect the resort.

Right now this issue is in the responsibility of by the financial police. To whom are they going to send the people’s complaints now? For if we were to rely on the state law regarding private property then even the public servants aren’t allowed to inspect it. The national security committee did not agree to the demands of the Federation of Trade Unions to combatting corruption in the Jeti-Oguz resort. “It’s his own business” was said when they did not agree to look into the financial activities since it was inevitably tied to the inspection plans.

We asked several MPs on whether or not they raised water pump issue during an Aldayarov session but replied in the negative. Had they heard about the issue regarding clean drinking water they would have acted upon it. In reality it’s about that. It’s about water pumps being granted and money being spent but nothing working in the end. And not to mention that people still don’t have clean drinking water.

We have asked people who possess technical expertise on the matter and after taking a look at the pump they told us that it would unsuitable to install it there due to the sandy profile of the earth. And then we heard that the solar-powered batteries would be ineffective. Imash Azarbayev, executive director of Ametis which guides the specialists commented that “ the Jeti-Oguz resort is located in a valley where the sun doesn’t even shine regularly. If you take into account that more than 60% of the resources went into purchasing these solar-powered batteries then one must conclude that the project was a failure. It should have been powered by conventional electricity. Right now they only charge 70 tiyin for powering water pumps. You have to determine what’s needed first and afterwards calculate the sum which was not done in this case.”,- he commented.

The “Kumtor” provided pump is currently out of order and the director unabashedly promises to repair it even though it’s been broken for 2 years. Promises need to be kept. That’s because “Kumtor” granted 894,380 Som and of which 750,000 Som was spent for the digging of a well. This is not small money.

Right now, the question of when will they receive water and if they can use it, remains unresolved.

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