Aghdam and Khojaly: Powering Karabakh's future through industry and logistics
    From ruins to renaissance

    ANALYTICS  30 May 2024 - 15:05

    Khazar Akhundov

    For the fourth year now, Azerbaijan has been implementing a large-scale program for the revival of the territories of the Karabakh and East Zangezur economic regions liberated from occupation.

    The key task of the Great Return is the restoration of Azerbaijani cities and villages destroyed by the Armenian occupiers, and the creation of conditions for the speedy return of citizens to their homes. High rates of construction of housing, social and industrial facilities are ensured in the Aghdam region, where during his trip on May 28, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev took part in the ceremony of laying the foundations of several villages, residential, administrative and social facilities. The head of state also met with residents who moved to the city of Khojaly.

    In Aghdam, which was liberated from occupation, work has been underway for the fourth year to revive the former importance of this second largest city in western Azerbaijan after Ganja. The entire residential, social, communal infrastructure and industrial potential of the Aghdam district were ruthlessly destroyed by the Armenian occupants, and today the administrative centre and surrounding settlements are being rebuilt from scratch.

    During the past period, large-scale demining works, formation of energy, transport and communal infrastructure were carried out in Aghdam and villages, construction of water reservoirs was started in a number of settlements of this region, dozens of artesian wells were drilled, sewerage infrastructure is being created. Thus, the total length of first and second category inner-city roads under construction in Aghdam will be 191.1 km, and 121 km of roads are planned to be put into operation at the first stage. Laying of two four-lane highways of republican importance - Barda-Aghdam (44.5 km) and Fuzuli-Aghdam (64.8 km) is almost completed. In general, at the first stage, basic infrastructure projects were mainly implemented in Aghdam district, and since last year large-scale works on construction of apartment complexes have started. According to "I State Program on the Great Return to the Liberated Territories of Azerbaijan", the mass return of residents to Aghdam is envisaged in 2025, and in order to optimise this process, apartment and low-rise buildings for almost 10,000 flats will be built in the city by 2027. Similar work on residential development is being carried out in the villages of this region, and in the medium term, it is planned to relocate about 42,000 people to the administrative centre and the periphery. President Ilham Aliyev and First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva visited the town of Khojaly on May 28, Azerbaijan's Independence Day, and took part in the ceremony of laying a number of new settlements in the Aghdam district in order to get acquainted with the reconstruction and construction works being carried out.

    "The first 20 families are returning to Khojaly, I want to congratulate you on this occasion from the bottom of my heart. Of course, it is not by chance that this return coincided with Independence Day: last year on May 28 I handed the keys to houses to Lachin residents in the town of Lachin, two years ago on May 27, on the eve of Independence Day, I met with the residents of Aghali, who also moved on that day. And today Khojaly residents are returning, and this is a wonderful, historical event: as you see, Khojaly is also getting better, rebuilt anew," President Ilham Aliyev said.

    In the city of Khojaly, the head of state got acquainted with the conditions created after major repairs and reconstruction in 15 multi-apartment three-story buildings: on the territory of the complex of 3.34 hectares there are 80 two-room, three-room and four-room apartments, children's and sports grounds, and gazebos have also been created. During the trip, Chairman of the State Committee of Urban Planning and Architecture of the Republic of Azerbaijan Anar Guliyev informed the head of state of the details of the general plan of Khojaly, according to which the future of the city is seen as a transport hub and logistics center: there is an airport, a highway of republican significance, a railway will be built in the near future, as well as light and food industry enterprises, building materials factories were built, and a small agricultural park was created. At the first stage, urban construction covers two plots of 167 and 18 hectares, and 90 per cent of the work on laying communications has already been completed, a number of houses have been renovated, a school and kindergarten have been built, a park has been laid out, and an artisans' quarter has been created. Work continues to create a boulevard on the river bank, a bazaar and public catering facilities are being built. According to the general plan, Khojaly will organically combine administrative, social, sports, shopping, and tourist facilities with comfortable residential areas located in green areas - 3-5-story apartment blocks and private low-rise buildings. At the first stage, it is planned to create conditions for the resettlement of about 12,000 people to Khojaly.

    Along with the relatively large cities of Agdam and Khojaly, works on revival of rural-type settlements in the Garabagh economic district are also continued. Thus, during his visit, President Ilham Aliyev took part in the solemn ceremony of laying the foundation stone of four future villages of Agdam district. In particular, these are Shotlanli, Nemirli, Gulluja and Tagibeyli villages, where 3436 individual houses will be built on a total area of over 1052 hectares and 13868 people will be resettled. Modern administrative, educational and medical institutions, sports complexes and shopping facilities, agricultural and processing enterprises, etc. will be built in all settlements.

    In general, the plains of Aghdam and Khojaly are considered as the future base of the agro-industrial core of the Karabakh economic region, and accordingly, an industrial cluster is being built here in advance. Thus, the "Aghdam Industrial Park" being formed from May 2021 is in second place in the republic after the industrial zone of the "Sumgayit Chemical Industrial Park" (SCIP) in terms of the number of registered residents. In this park, 21 business entities with a total investment volume of over AZN 195 million have been granted resident status, and more than 1,800 jobs are planned to be created here at the first stage alone.

    Alongside, taking into account the future production potential of the Agdam-Khojali agglomeration, the formation of railway infrastructure has been accelerated here, designed for future freight traffic both in the region and internationally. Thus, in accordance with the order of the head of state dated 24 November 2020, a 47.1-kilometre railway line is being built from Barda to Aghdam. As of mid-May of this year, 92.5 per cent of works have been completed on the railway line: including four stations - Barda, Kocharli, Tezekend and Aghdam, three bridges, 130 other engineering and track structures are being completed. The projected speed of trains on the Barda-Agdam line will be 80 km/h, and the annual turnover of freight traffic is estimated at 1.5 million tonnes. The continuation of this line will be the railway branch Aghdam - Khojaly - Khankendi, and work is currently underway to prepare design and estimate documentation for this segment. "The project of restoration, i.e. reconstruction of Aghdam - Khankendi railway is being prepared, the project of Khankendi railway station was presented to me. In the future it will be possible to go from Khankendi, Khojaly by railway in any direction, both to Baku and in the western direction, to Ganja," Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said during a conversation with residents of Khojaly city.

    Overall, together with the construction of the 110.4-kilometre single-track Horadiz-Aghband railway line, which will become an important segment of the international Zangezur corridor, the restoration of railway communication within Karabakh will play a significant role in the socio-economic revival of the territories of Azerbaijan liberated from occupation.


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