On 2 September 2014, the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, Davit Shavliashvili, spoke with journalists whilst attending the opening of the newly rehabilitated Saltvisi-Tirifoni irrigation system and stated:  “The irrigation system work near the border with the occupied territories is finished. Thirty-five villages, nearly 20 thousand hectares and 18 thousand families are already receiving irrigation water.”

FactCheck

took interest in this statement and verified its accuracy.

We found

information concerning the rehabilitation of the Saltvisi-Tirifoni irrigation system on the website of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure.

According to the information, the Municipal Development Fund of Georgia implemented the Saltvisi-Tirifoni irrigation system rehabilitation project with the financial support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The cost of the project exceeds GEL 14 million. More than 100 locals were employed during the rehabilitation of the irrigation canal. The Saltvisi and Tirifoni irrigation system’s trunk canals follow the so-called border of the occupied territory.

According to the same information, the rehabilitated Tirifoni irrigation system will enable the irrigation of up to 8,500 hectares of arable land in 14 villages. These villages are:  Ergneti, Megvrekisi, Brotsleti, Tirdznisi, Tergvisi, Karbe, Kere, Tkviavi, Plavi, Plavismani, Kveshi, Kitsnisi, Marana and Karaleti.

The rehabilitation of the Saltvisi irrigation system estimates serving up to 9,700 hectares of land with irrigation water in 16 villages. These villages are:  Upper Nikozi, Lower Nikozi, Upper Khviti, Lower Khviti, Pkhvenisi, Kelkceula, Shindisi, Akhaldaba, Variani, Varianis Meurneoba, Sakasheti, Dzlevijvari, Arashenda, Dirbi, Dvani and Takhtisdziri. Apart from the villages listed above, arable land of up to ten villages, located on the occupied territory, will be irrigated.

According to the information of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, the project is being implemented by a construction company called LTD Mshenebeli 80. Within the framework of this project, a 31.9-km long trunk and distributing canals have been constructed and 85 water inlet wells, 13 pounding constructions and watershed junctions have been set up. Based upon the same information, the project, which resulted in the upgrading of 20 thousand hectares of land irrigation systems in 39 villages near Shida Kartli’s dividing line, will benefit 18 thousand families.

The same information about the Saltvisi-Tirifoni trunk canal rehabilitation is also published on the website of the Municipal Development Fund. The Ministry of Agriculture is also disseminating

information about this project.

The list of rehabilitated irrigation canals and the work carried out on each of them are given

on the website of the United Georgian Reclamation System Company. There is information about the Saltvisi and Tirifoni irrigation canals as well.

FactCheck also found information connected to the aforementioned trunk canal rehabilitation on the website of USAID. Among the projects supporting Georgia’s economic development, there is an Infrastructure Rehabilitation project

for Internally Displaced Persons that USAID is implementing together with the Municipal Development Fund of Georgia. One of the aims of the project is to rehabilitate the infrastructure damaged during the 2008 conflict with Russia.

FactCheck’s article

about reclamation infrastructure rehabilitation was already published on 14 February of this year. According to the information received from the Ministry of Agriculture, the reclamation system rehabilitation project has been running since 2011 with improvements to the project beginning in 2013. According to the same information, the following funds have been allocated for the reclamation infrastructure rehabilitation:

Funds Allocated for Reclamation System Rehabilitation-Modernisation:

2009

In these years, funds were not allocated to companies for rehabilitation purposes

2010
2011

GEL 3,280,000

2012

GEL 6,776,000

Based upon the same information, GEL 48,599,800 was allocated for the United Georgian Reclamation System Company from the budget.

Conclusion

The Saltvisi-Tirifoni irrigation system rehabilitation was implemented by the Municipal Development Fund of Georgia with the financial support from USAID. The project’s cost exceeds GEL 14 million. In the framework of the project, arable lands of 30 Georgian and ten Ossetian villages near the dividing line will be irrigated amounting to approximately 20 thousand hectares of land.

According to FactCheck’s conclusion, Davit Shavliashvili’s statement:  “The irrigation system work near the border with the occupied territories is finished. Thirty-five villages, nearly 20 thousand hectares and 18 thousand families are already receiving irrigation water,” is TRUE.

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