by Karina Manukyan
Armenian environmentalists will send an open letter to President Serzh Sargsyan asking him to ban planned increased water releases from Lake Sevan, Gagik Tadevosyan, a former chairman of a parliament committee on social, health and environment issues and a co-author of the law on Lake Sevan, said at today's press-conference.
According to Tadevosyan, the increased water release can cause considerable damage to the lake. He said the letter will be signed by several environmental organizations, including the Environmental Public Union and the Environmental Information Centre (Aarhus centers) of Gegharkunik region and Yerevan.
Tadevosyan said he did not believe that the annual water release would not exceed 240 million cubic meters. According to him, the government may exceed the target in a bid to stop desertification of the Ararat valley resulting from ruthless use of underground water by local fish farms.
He said government's plans to build 74 fish farms on Lake Sevan which are expected to use 50,000 tons of artificial feeds in the form of nitrogen, phosphorus and other chemical mixtures for small fish would pollute the lake and make it a swamp.
He said the environmentalists demand that the president bans the construction of these fish farms because it is a breach of the law on Lake Sevan that forbids any kind of economic activity that would have a detrimental impact on its ecosystem.
On January 30 the Armenian government approved an increase in the release of irrigation water from the lake from the current 170 million to 240 million cubic meters per year until 2019. The parliament will hold hearings on this issue on March 19.