Friday, November 12, 2004

Fish Farm Blues…

Yesterday I got a call from by driver telling me that someone from the Hadrut government had come to the lake to take measurements and informed my guard that the city mayor of Hadrut, Vano, is taking over our lake.

I went down to the Martuni mayor to see if he could help me to make sense of this matter.

The facts that I had in hand was that almost 3 years ago, I presented a written request to the Martuni regional minister for the rental of the lake, from a directive from the Prime Minister, who told me that if I want to do fish farming, there is no need to build a lake, we already have a lake that he will give me.

My request was processed and due to the lack of a working law on the rental of water, I was eventually given a verbal directive/agreement from the regional minister to go and work the lake and as soon as the law was in place, all the necessary formal legal documents would be drawn up. He did this after talking to the regional minister of Hadrut, as to the status of the lake.

At that time, one issue came up, which was the Hadrut mayor, Vano had also wanted the lake, but after the Martuni mayor spoke with him, he withdrew any desire for the lake since the Martuni mayor is my friend.

So for the last 2+ years, I have been regularly checking in with the people at the regional ministers office to see if the conditions have been put in place so they could formalize the lake, the last time was at the beginning of October. At that time I was told that the new boundaries of the regions have been drawn up and unfortunately, the boarder between Hadrut and Martuni go right down the center of the lake. They said that it looks like we will have to sign two agreement or get the Prime Minister himself to draw up one agreement, which will be with him and not the regions. They told me they will explore the options and get back to me.

Before I was able to get back to them as I had planned by the middle of this month, I got the news of the Hadrut mayor, Vano, who had told my guard in 2 days he would be sending a new guard.

My consulting with the Martuni mayor ended with us calling the Martuni regional minister, who told me to come meet with him at 3pm. In the mean time, I had tried to call Vano, but his cell phone was unreachable.

I met with the regional minister, who first started out to tell me that it is too bad about Vano renting the lake, but I should have moved faster to get the papers drawn up and it is my fault that this has happened. I was a bit shocked to hear this and asked the regional minister as to what I should have done since his office didn’t know how to move forward and complete a job that we started over 2 years ago?

He called the regional minister of Hadrut to see what had transpired and was given an answer that they had decided to give the lake to Vano. The Martuni regional minister asked him as to how he was able to give a lake since half of it belonged to Martuni and he (the Martuni regional minister) had not given his approval? He said a few more words and hung up the phone.

He told me that Vano is a very difficult man to deal with and it looks like it would be best that I go speak with the Prime Minister about this matter, as it seems the regional minister of Hadrut’s decision is final.

I called the Prime Minister’s office to make an appointment, to be told that I would have to call back in a week to see when I could meet with him.

Due to the 2 day notice that Vano gave my guard, I once again tried to call Vano to find out if in fact everything I am being told is legal and final.

After a few tries, I was successful in contacting Vano. At first he seemed very defensive, so I assured him that if everything he did was legal, then he has nothing to worry about. He said that he had asked the regional minister of Hadrut if anyone has a request to rent the lake and he was told no. He wrote a request in May of 2004 and was now given approval and effectively is now in control of the lake.

I told him that I had a request from a couple years back with the Martuni regional ministers office, which was received prior to his request, so I can’t understand how the lake could be his? I added that I have until now spent thousands of dollars to maintain the lake with the understanding that it would be given to me when the laws were in place.

He said that the lake is not part of the Martuni region and the regional minister does not know what he is talking about. He told me the boarder is over a kilometer away from the lake and the whole lake is in Hadrut. He is sorry for the misunderstanding, but it is too late, the lake is his.

I told him that I was waiting for a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss this matter, as I have done everything by the book and on directives from the government, who should have known better and this whole thing is a slap in the face to me and people like me that come here not knowing all the ins and outs and follow the directions of the people in government who should know. I added that I would call him if I learned anything new.

I went back to see the regional minister with the new information I obtained from Vano and said that for the sake of time, I should try not to meet with the Prime Minister, but meet with his aid, who I had spoken to who instructed me to call back next week.

The regional minister called the aid, told him the reason for my wanting to meet. The aid said that he didn’t understand, the law for rental of water had not yet been adopted and is expected to be adopted on the 16th or 23rd, so there is no way anyone could rent the lake.

So it seems that good old Vano and the people in the Hadrut government are playing games and have in effect created documents that are not legal in order to take my lake away from me.

I tried to call Vano all day today to ask him to wait on sending his guard to my lake, which today I found out he is planning to put Nelson, the fisherman who I use to use that stole fish from me in April 2003 who I pressed charges against, which resulted in him compensating me 12,000 dram. I also want to meet with Vano face to face, see the documents that he claims to have (get copies of them too) and then try to see if he is willing to continue his offer of not wanting the lake, being that I’m the mayor of Martuni’s friend and future Nephew-in-law.

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