Enterprises to be liberated from historical and cultural study?

The Tatarstan president required simplification of the procedure, the government is preparing amendments, but there are problems with by-laws

At the last session of the Council for Entrepreneurship under the Tatarstan president, businesses complained about problems of a historical and cultural study that has to be performed on any site before the beginning of construction or reconstruction of a facility. A lack of experts, a long term, price — all this makes the study a serious obstacle to businesses. Also, according to current legislation, a study must be carried out on the territory of operating facilities where it is in general senseless to talk about the presence of archaeological landmarks. Rustam Minnikhanov offered to simplify the procedure. And this can already be done soon. However, the Russian government already has some projects of documents. But their signing as well as consideration of all nuances can take years.

They fought with “black archaeologists”, but businesses were hit

A historical and cultural study was first mentioned as early as 2002 when the Federal Law No. 73-FL On Cultural Heritage Sites as of 25 June 2002, in accordance with which “a historical and cultural study was required during construction works if the body protecting cultural heritage sites doesn’t have data about the absence of cultural heritage sites from the roster of detected cultural heritage sites or sites that have signs of a cultural heritage site on these lands”. Businesses faced the problem of the study in 2015 when it became compulsory before almost any construction works. It was explained that this measure was needed to detect new archaeological landmarks, protect them and fight with “black diggers”.

There are certain results, though not so big. The Committee for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Sites of the Republic of Tatarstan and federal Ministry of Culture detected 65 sites in Tatarstan during four years after checking out 1,300 applications. But the blow to businesses was much more serious. Vice Director of Tatmelioratsia JSC Irina Sokolova tabled this problem for Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikanov at the last session of the Council for Entrepreneurship. According to her, the study was costly and took much time, while the procedure itself was very confused. At the same time, Sokolova says that nowadays historians have studied only historical sites in Kazan, Sviyazhsk, Bolgar and other settlements. Consequently, the rest of the republic is subjected to a compulsory study, which entrepreneurs have to do at their own expense.

Head of the State Committee for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Sites of the Republic of Tatarstan Ivan Guschin commented on the situation in the council. Now the committee is waiting for a decree of the Russian government, after that, all the territory of the republic will be zoned, and the committee will perfectly understand where they “can dig where not”. In reply, President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov scolded Guschin because the committee didn’t have such information at the moment. In the end, the president offered to write a letter to the Russian minister of culture.

Long, expensive, confused

As Realnoe Vremya found out, entrepreneurs themselves aren’t up for refusing the study completely: everybody understands its meaning for culture. But the procedure itself raises a lot of questions. According to Vice Director of Tatmelioratsia JSC Irina Sokolova, the cost of archaeological works is from 200 to 700,000 rubles, while the duration of the procedure is up to 220 days.

“Our enterprises did this study,” says Vice Director of Kazan Plant of Polymeric Materials Lenar Sadykov. “We had to wait for about 6-7 months. The expertise itself is expensive. We don’t understand how such a price is made up. We had to wait for several months for a statement from Moscow, receive open lists (Editor’s Note: permission for archaeological works). And these works can be done only when it is warm, as the guidebook puts it.”

Such requirements boil down to that entrepreneurs lose an entire construction season.

There is also a problem with who must perform the study. Now businesses have to turn to two state bodies — the republican The Committee for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Sites and Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan. Moreover, only 15 specialised archaeological organisations that have a licence of the Russian Ministry of Culture can conduct archaeological works. Director of the committee Ivan Guschin explains that businesses themselves have to find necessary archaeologists and agree with them on works.

“Everything was dug across many times during the construction”

Even big industrial enterprises that have been occupying their territory for over 50 years, and there is no sense in looking for archaeological landmarks under them now, have to do the historical and cultural study too.

“For instance, Kazanorgsintez, everything was dug across many times during the construction, all bitumen or asphalt was laid on the whole territory. But a study is required even for a major overhaul of the foundation or basis,” Irina Sokolova said at the session.

The press service of Kazanorgsintez confirmed that the enterprise had to perform the study even during works on its territory, which had been built up since 1956. The necessity of such procedures on the territory of industrial facilities is unclear, but at the same time, the studies together with complicated environmental reviews seriously expand the duration of investment projects. Kazanorgsintez puts an example of the construction of a polycarbonates facility, which ended by 2008. A complex consisting of two plants (still the only in Russia) was erected within four years considering obtaining a licence, permission and design. Moreover, the facility was for the first time built in the temperate climatic zone, and it was necessary to adapt the technology for works below zero. Now it will take big projects 3-4 years to obtain the necessary documentation. And red-tape procedures take the biggest amount of time.

The procedure itself on the territory of big operating facilities such as TANECO, Nizhnekamskneftekhim, Kazanorgsintez that have the first- and second-degree hazardous sites is complicated. Not every archaeologist can obtain access to land works near such facilities.

“We want to find a burial there, in the end almost all the city can be affected because it influences life and safety,” Lenar Sadykov says.

“We don’t need any archaeologists. We have our own”

Proposals for the simplification of procedures were expressed at the session of the Council. Firstly, the Tatarstan president required to systemise the work.

“We don’t need any archaeologists. We have the Institute of Archaeology, we should create a group there, systemise the work to avoid a rise in prices, make up a list of prices,” Minnikhanov indicated and added they could refuse double agreement. “We can sign an agreement that the committee will do this job and simply report to the Russian Ministry of Culture.”

Secondly, it is necessary to determine the concentration of archaeological landmarks. Guschin said that a geoportal pegged to GLONASS was created already, it contains coordinates of about 300 archaeological landmarks.

“When are you going to add 3,008 sites?” Minnikhanov asked and required to accelerate this process.

Won’t the federal centre allow it?

However, it isn’t that easy to simplify the process. Irina Sokolova offers to task the regional level with issuing open lists, while the committee together with archaeologists would be charged with creating a proposal for an archaeological examination of those sites on the territory of the republic where it is planned to build socially important sites. Lenar Sadykov also considers that “the committee for the protection of cultural heritage sites must be the last point of this process and then give works to their archaeologists and invite the archaeological institute for this so that money will go to the city’s budget”.

However, defenders of the historical and cultural heritage of Kazan don’t agree with the entrepreneurs’ proposal. Vice Chairwoman of the Tatarstan Republican Office of the All-Russian Union of the Society for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments Farida Zabirova notes that “it is an issue of federal importance, it will unlikely be possible to change legislation and simplify the procedure of issuing open lists”.

“The reports on sites located underground must be kept in one place and forever. Meanwhile, the sites of archaeological heritage must be state property of federal importance, they can’t be expropriated. While a land parcel and water site where it was found can be both private and state or municipal property because a land parcel and an archaeological heritage site are two different things. “Black archaeology” is a big problem around the world. Coordinates are deliberately wrong even on archaeological maps so that “black archaeologists” can’t use them,” Zabirova said.

“We can’t call archaeologists and dig during every construction”

The situation with the construction on the territory of industrial enterprises is clearer. Most experts agree that a historical and cultural study applies to empty sites only. Honoured Architect of the Republic of Tatarstan Sergey Sanachin told Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent that there was a zone in Kazan where archaeological supervision or digs were needed in case of every change. Archaeologists detected cultural layers on this territory.

“This is not required near Orgsintez, Karavayevo. We have Land Use and Development Rules of Kazan, and this is probably the only legal document — others are recommendations. The Rules have three maps: restricted zones on condition of protection of cultural heritage sites, restricted zone on condition of protection of water sites and an archaeological layer. They have borders. We know where ancient people, groups of civilisations lived. But we can’t call archaeologists and dig during every construction. It would be violence against the owner, the developer,” Sergey Sanachin said.

Director of the Sh. Marjani Institute of History, Vice President of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan Rafael Khakimov has a similar point of view. According to him, it is important to know where a cultural layer, landmarks can be located.

“When there are no landmarks, the layer is sterile. Consequently, no study is needed, only a statement is needed. This procedure is faster on an industrial site. It can be just supervision. But pits are dug just in case, and then a report is given,” Rafael Khakimov thinks.

Russian government cares about problem

Enterprises support this stance. Moreover, the issue was tabled at federal level. Amendments to the Federal Law On Cultural Heritage Sites were made as early as 2018. According to them, it is necessary to set criteria to determine territories where agencies protecting cultural heritage sites have the foundation to assume that there are archaeological landmarks. As Realnoe Vremya found out that a project of a decree of the Russian government determining such criteria was prepared in 2019 on the basis of these amendments. There can’t be previous archaeological research on such lands, neither can there be an “external natural and manmade impact”. This clause, in fact, excludes all industrial enterprises as well as territories where construction works already took place from the list of sites to perform the historical and cultural study. Nowadays the project of the Russian government’s decree is about to be sent for approval. However, neither its adoption and signing will completely solve the problem.

By-laws are needed

“The project of the Russian government’s decree reads that information about territories subjected to a manmade impact including under big industrial facilities is offered to be consolidated in the Ministry of Construction of the Russian Federation,” explains Bulat Sabirov, the vice director general of Kazanorgsintez PJSC in Corporate Property Management and Investments. “However, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation possesses information about the borders of the territory. So the project of the decree doesn’t regulate the whole order of actions. Together with norms of the Russian government’s decree regulating the order of the historical and cultural study, amendments must be created and made to regulations affecting the activity and duties of these ministries.”

As Bulat Sabirov said, after the meeting of the council for entrepreneurship, Kazanorgsintez sent its proposals on the situation to Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov. Firstly, it is necessary to accelerate the adoption of the existing project of the Russian government’s decree. Secondly, it is necessary to prepare by-laws regulating the relationships and the order of information exchange between the Russian Ministry of Construction and Ministry of Culture. Thirdly, the Russian Ministry of Construction needs to determine the list of documents that are needed to prove a manmade impact on a territory. Ultimately, the documents are already developed now, it is necessary to impose a moratorium on a historical and cultural study on the territories occupied by industrial facilities not to stop works in current projects. Businesses hope Rustam Minnikhanov will support them here.

By Yekaterina Kharitonova, Lyutsia Kashapova

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