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26 Apr 2016

Contaminated areas turned into active business zones in Belarus

YELSK, 26 April (BelTA) – Belarus managed to turn radiation-affected areas into zones of business activity, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said when speaking at the final concert of the Revival marathon dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, BelTA has learned.

“Important investment projects are implemented here. Entrepreneurship gradually gains its footing here. We managed to transform our troubled regions into active business zones,” said Alexander Lukashenko.

The President stressed that more than 2,000 SMEs operate in the Chernobyl-affected areas of Gomel Oblast today. The private sector contributes 20% to 36% of the regional budget revenues.

The demographic situation in the Chernobyl-hit regions has improved, with the birth rate increasing and the mortality rate reducing. “As I was told by Gomel Oblast Governor Vladimir Dvornik, the birth rate here (in the affected areas – BelTA’s note) is 2-3% higher than average in Gomel Oblast. This means the areas are fit for living. This means people can choose to live here. We force no one to stay here,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

Government Chernobyl programs resulted in considerable decontamination efforts, construction of numerous treatment plants and thousands of kilometers of gas supply pipelines, water supply networks and sewage systems, roads. Nearly 100,000 houses and over 500 social-purpose facilities (schools, kindergartens, medical centers, sport facilities) were built. “In 2016-2020 we will complete our projects to provide gas supply to all regional centers and agro-towns, as well as big communities with good development prospects,” said Alexander Lukashenko.

According to the President, it is also important that the cultural sector has not been neglected. Old towns and villages take care of their cultural traditions, ancient rites and folk crafts.

“Our goal is not just revive the Chernobyl-hit areas but secure their further development. We will stay committed to the policy chosen in respect to the people living on these territories. In the previous five-year period I took the decision to transfer all Chernobyl-related funds to the local authorities and people,” the head of state said. The President added that the decision would remain in place for the ongoing five-year period so that the local authorities and local population might decide by themselves where to invest the money.

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