AGARAK (Arm: Ագարակ), Syunik Marz
AGARAK SITUATED ON THE ARAX BANK
3 Dec 04
Construction of Gas Pipeline Promises Temporal Jobs to Meghri Residents
Meghri region's residents are obviously encouraged by the construction of Iran -Armenia gas pipeline that officially began on November 30. The pipeline will reach Kajaran from Agarak. The construction of the pipeline stretching 42 kms will last 2 years. New job positions will be created for Meghri residents, although temporal.
Armen Sargsian, mayor of Agarak, said that Meghri region has never been provided with gas before and the population used liquid gas. "First of all we are interested in the construction of the pipeline. Besides the fact that Armenia will have an alternative gas pipe line, in 2-3 years Agarak residents will have natural gas at their homes," he said.
Agarak is the farthest settlement from the capital. It is far from it for over 400 km. Opposite Agarak are the Arax River and the Iranian highlands. The first wooden cottage was built on the left bank of the Arax in spring of 1949. That was the beginning of the town's construction. Agarak would nothave been built if there were no molybdenum and cupper mines in the surrounding territory of the city.
"About 1000 people are working at Agarak's cupper and molybdenum plant. In fact, the town was founded on the basis of the plant. The residents of the city came from all the regions of Armenia. In general, if we compare the social conditions in Agarak with those in Meghri or other towns of Armenia, the conditions in Agarak are much better. Only the plant gives about 60-70 million AMD of salaries to the citizens per a month. A part of the residents work at the customs' office or other service spheres," Mayor Sargsian says.
Zarmandukht with her family is engaged in hotel business. This family has made their house a hotel. "We always have guests, they are mainly lorry drivers. Especially, there are many guests during the hot summer nights when the drivers look for a shelter to hide from the hot weather. Certainly, there are also many guests in winter when the roads are blocked and the drivers have to pass the nights in our hotel and set off for Yerevan in the morning", Zarmandukht says.
To reach Yerevan from Agarak one needs almost a day. Formerly, when there was no war, Agarak dwellers and the residents of Meghri region used to use Nakhijevan road and the railway. Today, it's even useless to talk of opening the road. Even if it is opened, the trains will not run, as the rails are stillbeing stolen and sold.
Mayor Sargsian says that then the road good from the viewpoint of its shortness and fastness. "Yes, we still remember that good and short road, but the Azeri don't awoke other good memories for Agarak dwellers," he says. It's worth mentioning that there were many Azeris living in Meghri in the Soviet times. The residents of Niuward village didn't want to leave their homes and move to Azerbaijan even when the Karabakh war had already began. And only in 1991, when it was already a year that all the Azeris left Armenia, the Azeri dwellers of Niuward moved to Azerbaijan.
The social conditions in Agarak are much better than in other remote settlements of Armenia, but the town still has many problems to solve. The town has problems with drinking water supply, no Armenian TV channel or radio station is properly broadcasted in here, there is no mobile or internet connection either.
The dwellers of the town are engaged in their everyday work and they don't pay that much attention to the talks about "handing Meghri to Azeris." Theysay that they are firmly standing on their land and can't live without seeing the Arax everyday. Indeed, the nature has created a miraculous scenery here. The Arax passes by the bottoms of the highest mountains that resemble camels inthe dim of the morning light.
By Tatoul Hakobian, Agarak-Yerevan