In Dagestan, the Sulak Canyon was filled with drifting garbage islands

While environmentalists in Dagestan are sounding the alarm about the pollution of the Sulak canyon and the Chirkey reservoir with garbage, supervisory and executive bodies are inactive. Garbage floating against the backdrop of magnificent landscapes greatly annoys both tourists and locals. To figure out how to prevent an ecological catastrophe and preserve a unique place, Denis Polunchukov, coordinator of the Popular Front project “Traveling around Russia”, and Marina Yakubenko, an environmental expert from the Krasnoyarsk Territory, arrived in Dagestan.

Drifting islands of garbage washed ashore by the current have become a real environmental disaster for the Sulak Canyon and a safety hazard for tourists.

“All the garbage that has accumulated on the water is fresh, this can be seen from the production date of one of the bottles we caught, 2022 is indicated here. This is what mudflows bring from the mountains,” Polunchukov said.

According to the captains of tourist ships, they often fish out garbage to clear the tourist routes on the water, take it to the shore, but there is nowhere to dispose of it and they are fined for this. There are no elementary container sites for municipal solid waste on the shore.

In addition to the environmental problem, the accumulation of plastic, there is also a huge amount of snags and logs in the water. Dagestan is very popular with tourists, Polunchukov notes, according to a rough estimate, about 3 million people have visited the republic.

“Tourists ride boats and kayaks. If the boat stumbles upon such a snag, it can lead to tragic consequences,” said the coordinator of the Popular Front project “Traveling around Russia”.

Environmentalist Marina Yakubenko was also slightly shocked by what she saw.

“What we saw, I think it is a real environmental disaster. Light bulbs, batteries, tires, remnants of oil packages and household chemicals float in the water. This is unacceptable,” Yakubenko said.

In her opinion, the problem needs to be solved in a comprehensive manner: by organizing work with waste management and sorting garbage, eliminating dumps in ravines and purchasing the necessary equipment.

Public activists previously sent their proposals to the responsible authorities and this time invited them to a joint environmental raid, but the departments were not actively involved in the inspection. The representative of Rosprirodnadzor preferred to remain silent.

“A representative of the environmental prosecutor’s office was with us today in the raid, unfortunately, he also refused to comment, since he is a trainee, and by this attitude we understand how the environmental prosecutor’s office treats the environmental problem and solves those issues that need to be addressed. Everyone is well aware of where the garbage gets into the rivers and this has been happening for more than one year, you just need to deal with this problem,” Polunchukov said.

The Ministry of Natural Resources admits that the problem has existed for more than one year and it is difficult to cope with it without specialized equipment, since you cannot collect garbage on the water on Saturdays.

“This issue has been worked out since last year, in order to localize garbage accumulations on the water, the government of the Republic of Dagestan has provided funds for the purchase of a specialized multifunctional platform for cleaning the reservoir from accumulated garbage. The authorized body for the purchase of equipment is the Ministry of Land and Property Relations. The purchase should be completed by the end of the year,” said Gazimagomed Kuramagomedov, head of the department for water use and protection of water bodies of the Ministry of Natural Resources.

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