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Unpermitted buildings at Tuul River bank

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Housing prices near the Tuul River are considerably higher due to the favorable conditions of the area, which includes fresh air and location away from noise and crowds.
Construction companies are using tractors to cut down trees and burning bushes and greenery in the area. These activities are polluting the primary fresh water resource of the city, since apartments near the river are sold easily.
Even if the public criticizes officials who issue permits to build near the Tuul River, nothing comes from it. Around 50 percent of Mongolia’s population lives in Ulaanbaatar.
The Tuul River is considered to be the most highly polluted river in Mongolia. An initial discussion on rehabilitating the Tuul River was held this year. The project is expected to be financed by the Tuul River Basin Authority, Asian Development Bank and Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction.
The Ministry of Nature and Green Development hosted the Tuul Forum with Water Resource 2030 Group and a council for the river basin was established. If the project is implemented and its activities intensify, the pollution in the area will be managed, but there are still some worrisome issues such as large scale construction. For instance, we have reported that new buildings are being constructed on the northwest side of the Mongolian State University of Agriculture within 50 meters of the Tuul River, which is a special protected area that does not allow construction.

The construction of Mudi Residence of MUDI LLC is progressing intensively. Although MUDI said that  Niislel Urgoo Company is constructing the building, in reality, it was Khishig Khangai Company, when we arrived at the site.

Purchase orders for the buildings have already been made and is expected to commence this September.

Although Khishig Khangai said the apartments are connected to water and sanitary systems, they had clearly dug a well.

One of the workers at site said, “It was really hard to drill the well and it is quite deep.” In order to get the permission to drill the well, entities have to estimate the water reserve and receive approval from the city water authority, Mongol Us. Then they have to drill down to the approved level.

When asked about their approval from Mongol Us, they said the they did not even make a request. It is obvious that these companies have violated several laws on water use. The company also plans to build a swimming pool. Are they planning to drain the residents’ water supply to the pool and dump the waste into Tuul River?

On the east side of Mudi Residence, a housing project for 24 families was delayed due to financial issues. When asked about the contractor of the project from locals, we received reports that Cassandra Mongolia LLC is undertaking the project. The Ulaanbaatar City Land Management Authority said that they didn’t issue the permit and that the company bought the land from households that used to reside at the bank of the river before the Law on National Special Protected Area was passed. The company also did not get permission from the Ulaanbaatar City General Planning Authority.

 The following is an interview with Ts.Sosorburam, director of Mongol Us, about Tuul River bank construction permits.

 Many buildings are being built on the bank of Tuul River. Aren’t they violating the law?

According to the law, the buildings must be built 50 meters away from the river. But buildings that are being built now are within the protection zone of the city. Building in a national park or special protected zones are violations of the law. It has been a long time since we have transitioned into free-market economy. The free-market economy protects individuals’ property and violators are using it as a shield. We always face problems like whether we should tear down the unauthorized buildings or keep approve them. In my opinion, legal and inspection organizations should make brave steps. There is no use in fining construction companies. It will be a lesson for other companies if we demolish unauthorized buildings, and companies will start building in accordance to the law.

Will building near the river pollute the city’s fresh water supply?

Even if we connect the buildings to central water and sanitary systems, the river will be polluted by industrial activity.

How do you issue permission to drill a well?

We make evaluations on whether drilling wells are consistent with the law. Water reserves must be evaluated and approved.

What kind of measures do you take if an unauthorized well is drilled?

If it is more than 100 cubic meters, we inspect, make evaluations and take measures according to the law.

 The following is a short interview with G.Dolgorsuren, chief of the Tuul River Basin Authority, about construction issues around Tuul River.

 Construction companies are operating next to the notice board stating, “Special Protected Area of Tuul River 50 meter”. What kind of measures are you taking?

The authorized agency which should take measures is the State Specialized Inspection Agency. We don’t have the rights of inspectors. When we make a request to inspect an unauthorized building, the State Specialized Inspection Agency says, “We don’t make inspection on demand.” Constructions are executed seasonally. When a planned inspection is organized at the end of the year, construction companies aren’t working anymore. We deliver official demands. If they won’t reply, we will go to the court. Therefore, some companies comply to the demand but others release their dogs and do not even permit us to enter their fences.

Do construction companies usually have land ownership certificates and approvals for construction?

They have their permissions. At that time, we tell them that they will suffer losses if they build in the area as they are outside of the dam’s flood protection.  Some of them say, “When will the flood come?” and go on building.

How frequently does Tuul River flood?

It is estimated that the river floods once every 100 years. In 1966, Tuul River flood reached Tourist Street. For the last two years, Tuul River’s flow has decrease. During years with high flow, we can expect a flood. From ancient times, Mongolians used to forbid speaking ill of the low flow rate.

The companies and officials who did illegal things will try to avoid their responsibility when property is lost and people’s lives are endangered.

The Law on Water states that the special protection zone is within 50 meters of the river.



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