Aynura Heydarova

Freelance Journalist


27.03.2017 / If “pilot project” is justified, “Krushovka”s in other parts of Baku will also be demolished and replaced with new buildings

The decision signed by the Prime Minister Artur Rasizade about measures regarding the reconstruction of the 1st micro-district of Baku has made a new construction wave inevitable in the capital. According to this decision, demolition of 30-34 buildings with 5-9 floors in this area known as “Khrushovka” is planned. It is stated that these buildings are meant for temporary living and their exploitation period is over. There are 45 apartments in each of these buildings and 1729 families live here.

The new project will embrace an area of 29 hectares. There are 29 five-storey buildings with four blocks, four nine-storey buildings with four blocks and a sixteen-storey building with five blocks at the moment. Besides this, there are 6 ten, twelve and seventeen-storey new residential buildings. It is said that these buildings will be renovated in a way to maintain harmony with the new residential complex.

According to the decision, the client function in this project has been entrusted to the Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES). At the same time, this organization is responsible for preparing a draft Action Plan reflecting the implementation of the works, coordinating with the State Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture, the State Committee on Property Issues and Baku City Executive Power and then present it to the Cabinet of Ministers for confirmation.

A permanent working group with participation of the representatives from the Cabinet of Ministers, Ministry of Emergency Situations, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Finance and the State Committee on Property Issues to coordinate the tasks regarding the implementation of the decision and provide effective and comprehensive solutions to issues that might arise.

With a press release, Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov has confirmed that the initiator of the project is the MES and that the President of the country has approved the project. According to him, buildings in the aforementioned areas were built by the French with the permission of Nikita Khrushchev during the USSR period.

“These buildings were built by the French for people working in the oil fields of Algeria. As a lack of houses in Baku was a serious problem in the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev allowed construction of panel buildings. However, these houses have been built using concrete and therefore, all relevant standards have been violated. Many people living in these buildings get sick. I have lived in such panel houses for several months. Even the heating system has decayed here. Pure concrete, linoleum… those who can afford parquet, install it, and those who cannot remain in this situation. Therefore, the demolition of these buildings is praiseworthy. Buildings in the micro-district will be demolished one after another. Buildings with nine or twelve floors will be erected in those areas. Indeed, social facilities will also be built”, - Sharifov says.

Elkhan Asadov, deputy chairperson of the State Agency for Construction Safety Control of the MES has stated in his press release that this is a pilot project and if it is justified, it will cover other micro-districts of Baku too. However, he did not disclose the amount of compensation considered for the resettlements.

“Those who do not want an apartment or a facility in the new buildings can sell their old apartments. There are many non-residential buildings in those areas. If the owners of those non-residential areas wish, they can sell their property once and for all and not become a claimant for non-residential areas in the new buildings. These issues will be managed in contracts between the parties”, - Asadov added. He mentioned that the area of the new apartments that the people, whose old apartments were demolished, will get would be 10% larger than their old apartments.

The legal expert Emin Isayev, who commented the Open Government website, considers that two parties to participate in the project are subjects of civil law: “One of them is a private company, and the other is a property owner. The private company to participate in this project of the government will already benefit significantly from this project, and this is normal. However, the residents have the right to demand a larger space for their houses in exchange for this benefit.” The legal expert thinks that the additional 10% space mentioned in the decision will cause the discontent of people. “We can infer from here that one of the parties (the construction company) will make excessive wealth, and the property owners will have to give up their property that they have adjusted for the year to suit their needs for extra 10% benefit”, - Isayev stated.

A notable moment in this project is the involvement of MES to its implementation, whereas the execution of such projects used to denote assigned to the corresponding executive power authorities. The legal expert thinks that the purpose here can be presenting the demolition processes as an emergency case and “justifying” the end of the buildings’ lives. “It is also possible that this is not given to Baku City Executive Power, as it is a slightly large-scale and sensitive topic”, - Isayev says.

From the economic point of view, how favorable can such decisions of the Cabinet of Ministers be in a period when the government goes for foreign loans? According to the Doctor of Philosophy in Economics Azer Mehtiyev, the purpose of such projects is in fact to stimulate some economic revival. Such projects are meant for attracting extra investment, create new jobs in the construction sector and thus, contribute to the economic growth in the current situation when economic and investment activities and growth rates go down.

As a comparison, 1st micro-district has a very attractive location just like the part of Baku known as “Sovetski”. The identity of the owners and sources of the funds invested in this project will be absorbing. No doubt, investors, who want to make a profit, will show greater interest in these projects (it is evident where these investors can come from.) As there is no General Plan or an urban development strategy of Baku, we have no information about what else will be built beside the residential buildings and about what business centers or other business facilities are planned in this area. But it is obvious that investors involved in this project must be promised such high profit that they are interested in participating”, - Mehdiyev states.

Nusrat Ibrahimov, the general director of “MBA Group”, who commented this decision of the Prime Minister on Meydan TV, has said that 60 million AZN is the required funds for the project. This number can reach up to 100 million AZN when the demolition, resettlement and documentation expenses are also added.

Violation of property rights has become very ordinary cases in the country since 2006 as a result of the intervention of government organizations and companies of individuals linked to high-ranking officials to private properties. These issues have continuously been published in the reports of international organizations for many years. Hundreds of appeals to the European Court of Human Rights about them have already been recorded. Changes made to the Constitution in October 2016 already give legitimacy to intervention to private property under the name of “social requirements.” Probably these changes will be used for justifying such projects as the demolition of the 1st micro-district too.