The Movement to Defend the Khimki Forest has already accused Vinci in connection with multiple environmental crimes, as well as severe violations of human rights, in the Moscow- St.Petersburg toll motorway project. The Russian concessionaire of the project, NWCC LLC, is, in fact, a consortium created especially for this project and owned by Vinci jointly with several dubious shell companies from tax-haven jurisdictions.
Vinci has failed to maintain any dialogue with Russian civil society (which is unsurprisingly outraged by the senseless destruction of nature). Vinci has now been listed as non-communicating by the UN Global Compact, and may thus face expulsion from this scheme.
Nevertheless, Vinci has repeatedly denied all the allegations, claiming that the Russian State company Avtodor and the Russian Government are solely responsible for the route selection and preparatory works. However, new facts reveal the direct involvement of Vinci in another environmental crime in the project – namely, the destruction of the Kliazma River.
The Kliazma River is one of the water sources that feeds Moscow. It has formed one of the few untouched pristine riverbeds near the city, with lots of protected species of animals, birds, fish and plants. According to an Independent Environmental Assessment, the Kliazma riverbed is the only migration corridor for mammals still available in this region.
Nevertheless, destruction of this natural area is under way – for the very same Moscow- St. Petersburg Motorway as in the case of the Khimki Forest. No wonder – the motorway was designed with maximum use of natural land – which, according to Russian legislation turned to be easier to obtain than buy areas like abandoned industrial zones.
According to the project, about 1.3 km of Kliazma Riverbed must be filled in – just to build toll booths on the highway.
This is especially outrageous because there is a large area of free land nearby, in Molzhaninovo. But that land is reportedly of special interest for the construction of commercial buildings – so it was decided to sacrifice the Kliazma riverbed instead.
Preparatory works for the destruction of the Kliazma started well before Vinci’s NWCC LLC got actively involved in the works on the project. Between October 2010 and April 2011, a derivation channel was built to take the water from the doomed river. Nevertheless, during summer 2011, the channel was still dammed up – so the water was running its normal way.
The worst expectations came true between January and March 2012, as these two satellite pictures show (see Transparent World website.
January 25, 2012:
The last satellite image shows that more than 200 m of Kliazma riverbed has been buried. A construction site appeared, together with an access road.
But now, Vinci’s NWCC LLC is the only company with permission for construction works on the Moscow – St. Petersburg project (#03-1/125 from September 1, 2011). This means that now there is no longer any possibility to deny that Vinci’s consortium has got clearly and directly involved in the destruction of the environment in Russia. During an activists' inspection of the construction site, no documents allowing works were shown by workers. Nevertheless, the construction workers mentioned “a French company” that hired them. They even boasted that another French company is “supervising” the environmental aspects of the project. Little doubt, the last sentence meant French company Pur Projet whose representative Mr. Tristan Lecomte visited the activists' camp in the Khimki Forest, trying (together with Russian police) to persuade them to leave it: http://www.khimkiforest.org/news/project-pure-no-jews. Needless to say, no sign of any environmental awareness was seen at the site of the destruction of the river.
It must be noted that no active construction works have been carried out directly in Khimki Forest since Autumn, 2011. Nevertheless, the project has not been cancelled, and clearly continues to inflict environmental damage – now by Vinci’s consortium.
Movement to Defend the Khimki Forest!
To support the Khimki Forest case, you can choose any of the appropriate means here: http://www.khimkiforest.org/news/how-support-khimki-forest-defenders-who-are-risking-health-and-life-forest.
You can also enquire of Pur Projet company why it has decided to take part in such a dirty project as the Moscow-St.Petersburg motorway despite its very “green” public image.
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