Kalbajar-2024: "The Great Return"
    Review by Caliber.Az

    ANALYTICS  08 September 2023 - 13:12

    Khazar Akhundov

    The revival of the Azerbaijani territories liberated from Armenian occupation remained the key direction of the government’s investment strategy in 2021-2023. As of today, multiple plans to create primary roads, energy and communal infrastructure have already been implemented and new projects are being launched to rebuild settlements in accordance with the I State Program "Great Return to the Liberated Territories".

    Corresponding works are also being accelerated in the Kalbajar district, where a meeting of the Working Group on Urban Development was held on September 7. The participants of the meeting discussed what has already been done, outlining the terms for the construction of housing and the beginning of the return of former IDPs to their homes in 2024.

    For the third year already, Azerbaijan has been carrying out large-scale restoration of transport, energy and communal infrastructure, as well as creating industrial clusters within the framework of the program for the revival of the territories liberated from occupation. Along with primary infrastructure restoration projects, the priority goal of the I State Program "Great Return" is the accelerated formation of communal and social infrastructure, construction of housing, development of production and creation of new jobs, which will make it possible to revive vital activity in the Garabagh and Eastern Zangazur economic regions of the country in the near future.

    In particular, it is planned to build about three and a half tens of thousands of apartments and individual houses in the liberated territories by 2027, where 34.5 thousand families of former IDPs will be gradually resettled. Preparations for the settlement of citizens are actively underway in Shusha, Zangilan, Fuzuli, and Aghdam districts, where large-scale construction of housing is underway.

    Similar works have been carried out in other parts of the territories liberated from occupation, including in the district of Kalbajar, where an extended meeting of the Working Group on Urban Development was held with the participation of State Committee for Urban Development and Architecture First Deputy Chairman Namig Hummatov, Special Representative of the Azerbaijani president in the Lachin district Masim Mammadov, Head of the Secretariat of the Interdepartmental Center Nusrat Suleymanov and others.

    One of the most important issues touched on during the meeting concerned ensuring the safety of construction workers, future resettlers, and employees of various services, in this regard, large-scale demining and clearing of the territories of unexploded ordnance is being carried out in the Kalbajar district.

    "In 2023, it is planned to clear 1105.19 hectares of the territory of settlements of Kalbajar district from mines, in particular, in the first eight months of 2023, 653.46 hectares of the district's territory have already been demined," Hummatov said.

    A comparable scale of work was done last year - 983.71 hectares of territory was cleared of explosive objects, he added.

    Achievements in demining the territories of this high-mountainous district have contributed to the expansion of the work front for laying communications, construction of facilities, etc. Thus, this year seven settlements are to be designed in Kalbajar district - Istisu, Gamishli, Chaikand, Nadirkhanli, Gılınjli, Otagli and Chirag villages, and next year four more villages - Chapli, Kashdak, Dalgılınjli and Imanbinasi - will be designed. In general, by 2026, it is planned to restore a total of 15 settlements in this district, including the administrative centre, one settlement and 13 villages. 

    According to Deputy Chairman of the State Committee Namig Hummatov, in 2024, about 13 thousand people will return to the liberated from occupation district: more than 5 thousand of them will live in new houses in the administrative centre, and about 8 thousand - in rural areas. To provide the citizens returning to their homes with living space, it is planned to commission 3,500 housing units by 2026, including 2,000 private houses and 1,500 apartments in multi-storey buildings.

    To recap, in late August, with the participation of the head of state, a ceremony of laying the foundation of Zar village, one of the first settlements to be created in the Kalbajar district, was held. This village is designed for 855 families, and taking into account the prospect of 20-year development, a land plot of more than 243 hectares has been allocated for construction.

    In the first stage, it is planned to put into operation one-storey private houses for 547 resettled families. A school for 528 pupils, a kindergarten for 100 places, and other social and communal infrastructure will also be built here, and "green" generation resources will be used for power supply of houses and street lighting. 

    The “Great Return” state program pays considerable attention to the formation of agro-industrial, trade, service and other complexes and, the construction of communal, social and other institutions, the activities of which will provide jobs for returning citizens. Here it should be noted that according to the studies of recent years, Kalbajar, which is part of the Eastern Zangazur economic region, has a significant economic potential based on considerable natural resources.

    The mountainous Kalbajar and the neighbouring Lachin district are the source of 10 major rivers of the Garabagh region, including such full-flowing rivers as Khakari, Tartarchay, Bazarchay, Khachynchay, which form the main watercourse in the Lesser Caucasus region.

    High-mountain pastures, forests and fertile land create unique opportunities for the development of cattle breeding, beekeeping, a number of branches of plant growing, cultivation of valuable medicinal herbs, planting of nut orchards and development of processing and food industry on this basis in the future.

    There are also healing mineral springs - Yukhary Istisu, Ashagi Istisu, Kashdag, as well as thermal waters Tuthun, Garasu, Mozchay and Goturlu, on the basis of which an enterprise for bottling mineral water "Istisu" with a capacity of 8 million bottles per month is currently being established, as well as a medical and health-improving complex with a hotel with 145 rooms and 10 cottages is being built. Healing waters, as well as favourable climate and balneological potential, picturesque mountain landscapes, forests and rivers will eventually help Kalbajar turn into a resort and tourist zone at the international level.

    Finally, this mountainous region is rich in mineral resources, in particular deposits of gold, silver, copper, mercury, chromite, various raw materials for the production of construction materials, etc. AzerGold CJSC already implements the program of geological exploration of precious metals deposits in Kalbajar till 2025, and recently the specialists of CJSC have completed the first stage of relevant works in the basin of Tuthun river on the area of 85.56 sq. km.

    The work on the development of the energy infrastructure of the Kalbajar district is also actively promoted. In particular, by efforts of "Azerenerji" OJSC two years ago 110/35/10-kilovolt substation "Kalbajar" was put into operation here and construction of five small (derivation) hydroelectric power plants with a total capacity of 27 MW was almost completed.

    By the first quarter of 2024, 10 small HPPs with a total capacity of 75.5 MW will be built on the rivers and reservoirs of this high-mountainous district, capable of producing about 230 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

    Development of such capacious raw materials, industrial, agrarian and energy potential of the district will form a powerful production base that will provide jobs for many thousands of Azerbaijani citizens for decades to come, whose return to their homes will begin next year.


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