Villages of special attention

Aug 8, 2016

After renovation it became warm and cozy in the kindergarted. Photo Credit: UNDP archive

unofficial translation   

The government of the Russian Federation with the assistance of UNDP allotted about a half million USD for the project on social support of residents of villages located near uranium tailingsThe work on this program will be completed this autumn, and in 2017 the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic will begin a full-scale remediation of hazardous facilities.

Former Paradise

Though it has been not true for more than a quarter century, based on the old experience the Kyrgyz people still call Min Kush village a Paradise. In Soviet times it used to be a town of national importance, where a strategic object - uranium mine was located. As it used to be said in the Soviet times, people were living there at the expense of Moscow. Now this paradise rather is to be called a God-forsaken place.

Today, Min-Kush is a village with crumbling buildings, boarded up windows and few pensioners on the streets. This is a place where the radiation level is ten times higher than the norm. During 25 years, the authorities have been promising the residents of Min-Kush to start the resettlement to ecologically safe areas, but the solution is postponed every year. So the locals decided to try to survive on their own.

Experts of the Russian state corporation “Rosatom” who visited the country a few years ago offered the government of the Kyrgyz Republic to implement the project “Socio-economic development of the communities located near radioactive sites in the Kyrgyz Republic”. Min-Kush was in the list of settlements which would be covered by the assistance program. The funds were allocated by the Russian government and the works were carried out with the assistance of the regional office of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Naryn oblast.

The first things that drew the attention were children's institutions. The kindergarten needed the reconstruction most of all. The routine repair here had been carried out on a regular basis, but there was no money for anything else. Meanwhile the doors and window frames had been in need of replacement for a long time. The roof needed an urgent restoration too. People started to work with enthusiasm and succeeded to install the plastic window frames and fully restored the roof before the beginning of heating season.

There is a school of arts in Min-Kush with 67 children studying there. This educational institution was built in 1967 but since then no repairs were made here. The heating system ran out of order long time ago and young musicians had to practice only during early fall and late spring. Winter comes to this high-mountainous region much earlier than to other regions of the Kyrgyz Republic. When the frosts were coming the classes had to be conducted by the abridged curriculum.

“Everything was fixed including the entrance porch,” - told the arts school Principal Zhyldyz Alshukurova. – “Now the classes are conducted in a full scale. Moreover, the children got a possibility to go for pictorial art, choreography and vocals.”

Kadji-Sai village is another site that was covered by the project. The history of the village started in 1947 when uranium deposits were found in the neighborhood. But in 1960 it became clear that law content of radioactive elements in the rock makes mining of the heavy metal in the region unprofitable. The mine was closed but the production wastes remained.

The village was totally reoriented for production of coal in the mines. There was also an experimental electrical-technical plant. The majority of the employable population used to work there. With the collapse of the USSR the company lost its market. It also became unprofitable to extract the coal using a mine method. As a result, the village population, which is about four thousand people, had to look for a chance to feed themselves.

UNDP with the help of the Russian Government supported organization of small businesses. A bakery is one of them. 30 kilograms of bread and bakery products are produced here each day. The products are so popular among the local residents - they are bought out before they get cold.

Several sewing shops that were opened here provide the inhabitants with clothing. The sew for both mass market and individuals.

“We have been working for only one year, but our products are sold quickly,” - said the head of sewing factory Ainagul Shermetova. “In addition, we do restoration of clothes, sew the linens, and sometimes even wedding and evening dresses. If someone goes to Bishkek I ask them to bring fashion magazines. We also find models in the Internet. This year there were a lot of orders from high school graduates and it was all right, we succeeded to do it. They were not worse than they sew in the capital.”

The food program was also implemented. In addition to baking of own bread, local residents were helped to open the shop for processing of fruits. Juices and fruit drinks of local production are now always on the tables of Kadji-Sai residents. By the way, they succeeded to buy a special cooler for storage of agricultural products. So, now fresh vegetables are always in stock.
Orlovka city in Chui oblast is another site of the project. It was founded before the Revolution, in 1910, by immigrants from different parts of the Tsarist Russia. In Soviet times a mining and processing plant was built there. Wastes used to be disposed to a special landfill that was mothballed before the collapse of the USSR, when the enterprise itself was stopped.

Some residents of Orlovka were lucky to leave, while others were earning their living by digging the black and nonferrous metals among radioactive wastes. They were sold to black marketers to get some little money which was barely enough to feed them. These “prospectors” were called black diggers. At the same time, every day going down for “prey”, they were receiving a radiation dose of about 400 micro-roentgens per hour, which is 10 times higher than the permitted limit.

Two secondary schools were built during the Soviet era here. One of them turns 70 this year and the other one is slightly younger. However, both institutions began to have heating problems as well as sewage and water pipes systems problems a long time ago.

“There are strong drafts in the class at winter time. The children used to get sick very often, which affected the performance. Of course, we have been doing some routine repairs, but it was all that the local administration used to allocate money for. That is why, when we learned that Russia funds the social projects in towns like ours through UNDP, we decided to apply for assistance,” - told the principal of # 1 Orlovka school Galina Shakun.

Another problem that is now solved in Orlovka is an uninterrupted supply of drinking water. In 2016, submersible pumps and pipes were replaced here. In the result, more than six thousand people drink crystal-clear water today.

“RG” certificate

There are 92 objects with radioactive and toxic mining production wastes on the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic. This legacy of the Soviet era includes 33 tailings and 25 dumps. Most of them are located in the zone of the transboundary water courses formation on the territory of high seismicity and landslide hazards.


Minister of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic Kubatbek Boronov have told the rehabilitation of the three tailings - Mailuu-Suu, Issyk-Ata and Min-Kush will begin in the Kyrgyz Republic in 2017. The works primarily will be conducted at the first two objects, and in 2018 at the last one.

Russian Newspaper  

Original: Села особого внимания


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