The catastrophe of the "pilot project"

The process of mass demolition of housing in Baku has been going on for almost 10 years. The intensive demolition of houses was carried out in 2009-2010 on the streets of Fizuli (former Basin) and Mirzagi Aliyev. A new stimulus to construction companies was given by the 86th decree of the Cabinet of Ministers on February 25, 2016 "On additional measures to accelerate the socio-economic development of Surakhani, Nasimi, Khatai, Narimanov, Nizami, Yasamal, Sabail, Khazar and Pirallahi regions," according to which located in these areas, residential houses that have exhausted their operational resource, are subject to demolition as unfit for housing. The category of "exhausted resource" includes the so-called "Khrushchev" - panel five-story apartment buildings built in the sixties of the last century, and houses of earlier years. The project was called "pilot", the reason for this name is unknown.

The scheme of relations between local authorities, construction companies and owners of old houses was adopted: the executive authorities of the districts conclude agreements with construction companies on the demolition, design and construction of new houses on the site of the old ones. And developers agree with tenants of old houses. By mutual consent, the owners of apartments receive documented material compensation from the construction company, or developers pledge to provide residents with new housing, and citizens confident in their housing future voluntarily leave the old apartments.

Baku people are forced to leave their homes, sometimes without signing contracts with them

In many cases, this is happening; in any case, reports on conflicts between developers and residents do not come from all the Baku residents whose homes are to be demolished in the framework of this government decision. But in some parts of Baku, the implementation of this decision caused tragic events. Developers, having agreed with the district executive power, grossly violate the provisions of government decision N86, forcing tenants to accept proposals that contradict their housing needs, or even destroying houses from which people did not leave.

In August 2017, the rights of the residents in the seven-story building in Nasimi district of Baku, Samed Vurgun Street 69, were violated by the construction company Pilot İnşaat A. They were informed from the company that the house would be demolished, and a modern building would be built in its place. The company acted on the basis of the order of the head of the district executive authority of November 3, 2016 on demolition of the building, but the document indicated the voluntariness of eviction of citizens. On the basis of notification to the construction company residents appealed to the Cabinet of Ministers, where they were told that "the relevant decision does not concern your building, do not leave your apartments, you are deceived and you can lose your living space." The building was built in 1970 and is not in an emergency condition, and the residents have no complaints about the technical condition of the building. Citizens were received by the head of the department on legal issues of the Cabinet of Ministers Hagigat Ismailova, who stated that the building at 69 Sameda Vurgun Street was not included in the list of buildings to be demolished, and nothing is known about the construction company in the Cabinet. Thus, Pilot İnşaat A, using the decision of the Cabinet, tries to deceive the tenants, and Nasimi executive authority patronizes it, reported the site

Residents pay attention to the text of the contract proposed by him, in which the construction company warns: "cases that do not depend on the will of the parties after the signing of the agreement - floods, fires, earthquakes, other natural disasters, as well as military actions, sieges, negative decisions of state agencies for this construction - in the future are considered force majeure ". It turns out that if in the future the state does not construct building or the construction will be suspended by the decision of state bodies, we will remain with nothing, the resident of the house Aydin Imanov shared with the journalist.

Having bought two apartments in this house, the company Pilot İnşaat quickly destroyed them, damaging neighboring apartments whose residents refused to leave the house, as well as the owners of the remaining apartments. This caused a panic of citizens, the fear of being left without a roof over their heads. So the developer forced the tenants to agree with the contract he had proposed.

Under the same difficult situation, residents of the whole block in Nasimi district, at the intersection of H.Aleskerov and S.Rustam, G.Guliyev and H.Shushinsky streets. In an open letter to President Ilham Aliyev, they ask "on the basis of Article 57 and Articles 26, 29, 31 and 43 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan to save us from the psychological pressure carried out by construction outlaws on behalf of "Grand Plaza" LLC.

"Without any official notification, without presenting any legally binding documents and not disdaining the use of the dirtiest technologies (up to the creation of conflict and emergency situations), a group of unknown persons is trying to persuade citizens to sign a treaty that deprives citizens of all property rights. Unfortunately, the appeals on this issue to the relevant state structures do not give any result," the citizens write to the president.

Pensioners of Sabayil district of Baku Mikhailov Vladimir and Mikhailova Irina appealed the vice-president Mehriban Aliyeva. Prior to the eviction, they lived in Bail area, Azer Nasirov Street, having legal registration documents for the private ownership of their house. At first they were threatened on the phone, demanding to accept the terms of the developer and leave the house. The developers reported that the whole territory, together with other houses, was bought by a certain person from the Sabail executive power. Representatives of the district prosecutor's office, police came to the place of the event, which resulted in mass destruction of the residential low-rise massif. As a result, the tenants resigned and left.

The same violent methods of eviction of uncompromising tenants were applied by the construction company LLC Dönüş-1 (owner Ali Hasanov). "In other parts of the city, developers agree with tenants, pay them for renting an apartment during the construction of a new house, and pledge to provide apartments in the future building." And in our quarter, the construction company Dönüş-1 is ruining houses with people in them," end of 2017 Turan owner of the destroyed one-story house Karina Aliyeva. The 62-year-old teacher managed to run out of the house to G.Abbasova's , 42. Furniture, chandeliers and other decoration of the house remained under the ruins. Air conditioning and other household items were stolen by workers from Dönüş-1. Her neighbors, tenants of 14 apartments, sent complaints to the Prosecutor General's Office, the Presidential Administration, the First Vice-President, etc., receiving the same answers: complaints are sent to other instances with the order to "find out and report" or citizens are advised to apply to the court. K.Aliyeva hired a lawyer, the suit was sent to court. But the residential area is destroyed, on December 15, Karina Aliyeva became homeless. Tenants from the developer did not receive money compensation, since they refused to move to an unfinished multi-storey house outside the city of Baku. Now they rent a house, waiting for the trial. Residents could not complain to state structures, explained Karina Aliyeva.

Residents blame the head of the executive power of Sabail district Eldar Azizov, and even more his deputy Abid Aliyev, violating the right of citizens to inviolability of immovable property. The decree of the government on the demolition of old housing ("pilot projects") clearly states that demolition of old houses is possible only after reaching with the owners a voluntary consent to compensation and departure, but the expulsion of tenants is forced. The developer Ali Hasanov does not show the documents of his company to the residents, but the Baku people do not believe in empty words, they are afraid to become homeless. The executive power, set by the state to protect the interests of citizens, silently looks at what is happening, in fact, patronizing the businessman A.Hasanov.

The tenants of the building, located at the address: Alibey Huseynzadeh, 8, sent an official complaint to the head of the Executive Power of the Sabail District, Eldar Azizov. The document notes that several people, introducing themselves as employees of Qala Group, visited them several times in May-August 2017 and claimed that their building was emergency and therefore was to be demolished.

Local government protects developers, and courts are inattentive to citizens' rights

The demolition of citizens' housing within the framework of renovation projects should be carried out under state guarantees, in an interview to the program Cətin Sual (Difficult issue) of the agency Turan the well-known expert in the field of law and lawyer Fuad Agayev said. According to the basic law of the country, no public or private body has the right to demolish private property without obtaining the consent of the owner and without state needs. Unfortunately, many citizens do not know about this, and those who know have limited opportunities for protection because the courts in Azerbaijan are not independent bodies and are not guided by laws," said the lawyer F. Agayev.

Sometimes companies which are not mentioned at all in the search engines, are attracted to the renovation projects. The contracts they conclude are not notarized, there is no risk insurance. Involving unknown companies, without having sufficient financial resources, can cause serious problems. If a citizen enters into a contract with a private company, then tomorrow this company may be stopped financing and it will go bankrupt.

The whole process of demolition of old housing and construction of high-rise buildings with the provision of apartments of former residents is called a "pilot project". This is nonsense. Only 1 , 2 or 3 model projects can be considered pilot project. To declare a large-scale work covering a significant part of Baku as a "pilot project" does not correspond to the law or international practice. If a house is demolished on behalf of the state, then a state body becomes a participant in this process. There must be state guarantees and security, Agayev continued.

Citizens appeal to the courts, but courts they do not pay attention to these issues, although they are obliged to suspend such illegal demolitions, "said Agayev.

The European Court of Human Rights has already taken two decisions with regard to Azerbaijan on this issue. In the cases of Akhverdiyeva and Khalikova, the ECHR unequivocally established that if property is not alienated for state needs, there is no corresponding decision of the Cabinet, then there is a violation of property rights. With regard to the enforcement of court decisions, that is, a number of verdicts have not yet been executed, and no compensation for the material damage caused.

The following figures indicate the scale of the violation of the residents' rights to non-residential property in Baku: the pilot project implemented in nine districts of Baku provides for the construction of 254 high-rise buildings within 5 years and the resettlement of 49,614 people living in private houses and "Khrushchevs". "The pilot project provides for the demolition of 1,094 residential buildings with a total area of ​​893,000 square meters, or 15,857 apartments, within five years," Abbas Alasgarov, chairman of the state committee for town-planning and architecture of Azerbaijan, told journalists.

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