Officials in Kyrgyz claim they have signed an agreement with foreign investors to begin building an “eco-city”, near the picturesque shores Lake Issyk-Kul. This is despite concerns that the multibillion-dollar investment could damage the environment.
Ruslan Akmataliev is the head of the Asman Eco City of the Future. He stated that three French companies, Finentrep Aspir MEDEF and Mercuroo, had pledged to invest $5 billion in the first stage of the ambitious $20 billion project. He stated that the contract was signed on April 12 by Sadyr Japarov, the Kyrgyz President, and representatives of the companies. However, he didn’t give any details.
Japarov’s government presented the project in July. It is a sustainable city that will be an economic and tourist hub with an advanced education system, a state of-the-art business centre, banks, high-tech parks, and sports arenas. It will also have modern healthcare facilities that will allow for medical tourism development.
According to the president’s office, the city will rely on alternative energy sources most of the time and will use environmentally-friendly transport models to conform to the principles of a sustainable economy.
From a bird’s eye view, the city, called Asman (Kyrgyz word for “sky”) would look like a “komuz,” an old musical instrument and one Kyrgyzstan’s national symbol.
Asman is a planned community of approximately 500,000 people. It will be built on 4,000 hectares over the next seven to ten years. Officials claimed construction would start this spring, but there was no date.
Akmataliev and others behind this project hope that Asman will appeal especially to Kyrgyz IT professionals, doctors, and other professionals who live abroad. “If we create [work and life]Many Kyrgyz will be returning to their country to work because of the opportunities available. We will use the best technology available from around the world to create Asman,” Akmataliev Submitted reporters.
“We will have the most modern hospitals for medical tourists and the Kyrgyz people will not have to travel to Turkey or India for treatment anymore,” he stated.
The project will also create thousands of jobs for local residents, as well as many others who are currently working as migrant workers in Russia and other countries.
Initial plans had the city located near Toru-Aigyr. It was about 15 km from Balykchi’s industrial town. The project managers looked into an alternative location near Chyrpykty.
The government presented the project in July as a sustainable urban center that will become an economic, tourist and cultural center.
Huge Environmental Impact
Not everyone in Kyrgyzstan agrees with the government’s enthusiasm for the project. Experts and environmental activists are concerned that the construction in the area of a new city will disrupt the ecosystem and harm the environment.
Environmental activists began a protest movement called No to the Construction of Asman in January. urgingThe government must abandon the project.
The Issyk–Kul region is home to 335 species. 39 of them are included in Kyrgyzstan’s Red Book of Endangered Species, according to UNESCO. It also has a very diverse flora. Because of its environmental importance, Issyk-Kul became part of the UN agency’s global network of Biosphere Reserves in 2001.
Experts raised alarms about the declining ecological condition at Issyk Kale even before the “ecocity” project was proposed. This was due to climate change, unregulated construction and other activities.
Rysbek Sathilkanov, head of the Center for Water and Hydroenergy Studies, in Bishkek says that the lake’s water level is dropping for the past decade. The main causes are climate change and human activities, such as the diversion from rivers to irrigate farmland. He said that the lake’s water level had dropped by 90 centimeters in the past year, calling it a “dangerous signal.”
A city with 500,000 inhabitants could lead to additional problems such as soil pollution from large populations and air pollution from car exhaust. Experts warn that there would be sewage-management and other problems. Aigul Nariddinova, a Kyrgyz University lecturer in Construction, Transport, and Architecture, stated that there is simply no basis for building a large city. It will cause irreparable damage.
Issyk-Kul has a length of 182 km and a width around 60 kilometers. It is the second-largest lake in mountain country.
Some argue that the eco-city will drive out local residents, who would most likely not be able to afford apartments in the new town, from the property market and make the area a playground for the rich.
To appease such critics the authorities stated that they would provide alternate land in nearby villages to anyone who loses their land due to the project.
Officials have promised that the new development will provide apartments for villagers whose homes are being demolished.
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