Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chairs a meeting “On improving the earthquake resistance of residential buildings, infrastructure facilities and vital support systems in the earthquake regions of the Russian Federation”

11.07.2012 11:19:24 (GMT+12)

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chairs a meeting “On improving the earthquake resistance of residential buildings, infrastructure facilities and vital support systems in the earthquake regions of the Russian Federation”
Dmitry Medvedev 4 july 2012 said he had decided to extend the programme to increase the quake resistance of residential buildings, infrastructure facilities and other systems in Russia’s quake-prone regions to 2018.


Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues. We have gathered here in the Kamchatka Territory today to discuss an issue which is directly linked with national safety and security. We will discuss ways of improving the earthquake resistance of residential buildings, infrastructure facilities and vital support systems in the earthquake regions of our country. Current estimates show that about 25% of Russia’s area is potentially liable to experience an earthquake. This includes 27 regions with a population of about 20 million people. Quite possibly these regions are not equal in terms of the specific threat, and it is very hard to assess the scale of such a threat. We visited an institute that monitors seismic activity and the potential for tsunamis awhile ago. Of course, some forecasts come true, and some don’t. Some forecasts have been compiled for the Kamchatka Territory where we are now. To be honest, the forecasts are rather disturbing. Several major earthquakes have been recorded in Russia over the past few years including some powerful earthquakes in the Koryak Autonomous Area in 2006. I looked into this particular emergency separately at that point. I went there and we restored several communities. Several earthquakes were also recorded on the central Kuril Islands and on Sakhalin Island in 2007. Moreover, several earthquakes were recently recorded in the Southern Federal District and in Tuva.  A long-term seismic forecast lists Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, where we are now, and the North Kuril archipelago as the most dangerous areas. We must minimise the risk. Of course, we will be unable to completely eliminate the risk of earthquakes but we must try to minimise it. We must try to ensure the safety of the public, as well as the sustained operation of industrial and social facilities and the infrastructure. In all, 13.5 billion roubles have already been allocated for the solution of all these programmes under a federal targeted programme which is called on to increase the quake resistance of residential buildings, infrastructure facilities and other systems in Russia’s quake-prone regions in 2009-2014. This includes 11.3 billion roubles’ worth of federal budget allocations, 2.1 billion roubles’ worth of regional budget allocations and 150 million roubles from extra-budgetary sources.

What has been accomplished? Technically speaking, in my opinion, we have taken some important steps by building dozens of quake-resistant residential buildings and social and administrative facilities. In effect, this work was launched after a very long time. The following facilities have been opened here, in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. To the best of my knowledge, 19 new residential buildings have been commissioned, and 37 residential buildings have been reinforced. I am not a specialist, but, of course, there is a big difference between constructing a new building and making one more quake-resistant. Quite possibly, this must be done in some places. We cannnot simply ignore it. But what should the final proportion be like? Because, in the long run, you will be responsible for spending these allocations, and we must understand how to spend the funding in a reasonable way. God forbid, if something happens, and if a reinforced building does not withstand the shock-wave impact, then, first of all, this would be a tragedy, and second, the money will have been squandered. I would like  to hear your opinion on this.

We are also moving to increase the quake resistance of social facilities, including kindergartens, outpatient clinics and schools. This work is now underway. Nevertheless, about 50% of residential buildings, public and production facilities lack the required quake resistance. This percent is higher in some regions. More than 80% of facilities in the Kamchatka Territory have the required quake resistance. In some cases, the share of reinforced quake-resistant facilities is as high as 90%. This situation needs to be rectified. Today, we will analyse the programme. I would like to hear your proposals. Please tell me about specific problems so we can eliminate them in the future. Why? Because I want to tell you that I have decided to extend this programme to 2018. I have just signed the document on this. I would like to note that this was not an easy decision, considering that the budget is quite tight and we need to allocate sufficient resources for various social development areas. Therefore, I want all the regional leaders who are present here to heed these decisions. Its financing has been increasing quite significantly and will reach almost 80 billion roubles by 2018. The key task is to spend these funds effectively.

In the next two years, 15 regions located in areas of high seismic activity will receive government assistance. Twelve more regions will be provided with government support at a later point. These funds must be spent as effectively as possible. We need to begin appropriate activities in each of these areas.  

I also would like to draw the attention of state agencies overseeing these activities, including the Ministry of Regional Development, the Emergencies Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Defence Ministry, and the Federal Security Service, to the fact that all programme benchmarks must be met.

First and foremost, there is the need to ensure that residential and administrative buildings have the necessary level of seismic safety. Also, we need to focus on minimising the economic and environmental consequences of potential earthquakes.  

Toward this end, we need to improve the level of cooperation and consolidate the efforts of federal and regional authorities. Most importantly, and I want to stress this again, we need to act very responsibly when it comes to spending and ensure that the co-financing of programme activities is implemented effectively. I would like to draw your attention to this point.

Let’s move on. Please, Mr Oleg Govorun, minister of regional development, you can have the floor.  

Oleg Govorun: Thank you, Mr Medvedev. Colleagues, the programme to increase the earthquake resistance of residential buildings and major facilities in areas of seismic activity for the period through 2018 is aimed at ensuring the safety of residents and minimising the impact of earthquakes in the area covering a quarter of Russia’s territory. Obviously, in order to implement these objectives, we need to ensure cooperation and interaction between all levels of government, as well as experts and scientists.  

In 1990s, the Russian Academy of Sciences developed seismic zoning maps. As the results of this work have shown, the seismic hazard in Russia, including in many areas of the Far East, is much higher than we had thought in the past. So for many years housing was built without taking into account the real situation, and so earthquake resistance of structures is bad. The average indicator of seismic deficiency in buildings is 50%, and in some districts, 90%. More detailed data for specific areas are obtainable, but only using seismic microzonation. So far this has been done only on a small part of Russia’s territory and rather locally. The City Planning Code provides for such mandatory work when developing territorial planning documents, and all of us are aware of the deadline, January 2013.

Seismic risk accounting will make it possible to take measured decisions, reinforce existing residential buildings and power supply and utilities or to erect new earthquake-resistant buildings. In some cases the cost of  reinforcement is 70% of the total cost of building anew, therefore sometimes it is much more efficient to rebuild. What additional efforts and what additional requirements is the Ministry of Regional Development making? Jointly with the project institute, we are conducting work on adjusting and updating the requirements in the area of technical regulation.  

In 2011, following the order of the Ministry of Regional Development, a new version of requirements for designing and erecting buildings in earthquake-prone districts was developed. The scientists and officials developing the requirements used the advanced experience of construction in Japan, Alaska and other regions with similar seismic conditions. They used for the first time the two-tier calculation of earthquake shock and used modified methods expanding the use of modern computer technologies for spatial mathematic models of structures. New standards will improve the quality of design and help make buildings more sound. Currently they are being tested and by the end of the year we are to introduce the updated standards for technical documents in the area of seismic safety of buildings and include them in the mandatory technical regulation list.

I’d like to highlight earthquake-resistant reinforcement technologies. Today with my colleagues I examined the buildings being reconstructed under this programme. I think this is a topic of discussion.

A lot of work has been done, but how much has people’s quality of life improved? Basically, they used technologies that had been developed in the Soviet times; that is costly work that degrades the quality of housing. It is no surprise that landlords often have problems getting permit documentation for this work, per existing law.    

The existing methods included in the legal framework make it possible to carry out this work with better quality. In particular, some Russian towns already have experience using the method of seismic isolation of the basement. With lower costs for reinforcement, this method makes it possible to achieve the same effect at a lower cost and without deteriorating the quality of the building. For example, they reinforced the Central Bank building in Irkutsk, a school building on Sakhalin, some buildings in other provinces. We will prepare engineering solutions and recommendations for provinces by September 2012 and include them in the register of uniform documentation of the Ministry of Regional Development.

In the interests of oversight of compliance with the requirements of earthquake- resistant construction, the Ministry of Regional Development will develop methodological recommendations to regional inspectorates and regional bodies that oversee construction. This year the Ministry of Regional Development introduced in test mode the Seismic Safety of Russia, a unified information system. It is a database on the internet of earthquake-prone zones, results of microzonation, recent earthquakes, as well as construction and reconstruction conducted by regions. This will make it possible for regions not only to share experience but also use modern information technologies to protect the population and buildings.

In the course of non-programme research, the Ministry of Regional Development is elaborating a method of applying economically effective and innovative technologies for earthquake resistance of buildings. They will adopt the major part of the legislative documents in technical regulation and budget standardisation for the unrestricted use of new technologies and materials in construction by the end of the year. In addition, they will develop and send to regions the albums of uniform projects of earthquake-resistant buildings by December. We will advise that they be used in earthquake-prone zones, including the new technologies of dense housing development.

In our view, it is necessary to abandon the practice of constructing multi-storey buildings of heavy concrete. It is a known fact that an earthquake’s effect is magnified by the height of a structure or building. It is necessary to limit the number of floors in the housing under construction. Light wooden, polymer or composite structures should become the basis of construction in earthquake-prone zones, which is the custom in developed countries. This will demand a qualitatively new kind of work from construction companies.    

Modernisation of the construction sector is especially urgent in Siberia and the Far East due to the objective transport limitations that considerably increase the prices of shipped construction materials. I want to cite the first positive examples, such as the Republic of Yakutia (Sakha), which has a factory producing composite materials for construction and utilities; Khabarovsk has launched production of prefabricated houses using modern wood-framed technologies that have been successfully tested and are appropriate for the area’s climatic and geological features. I advise all other regions to create the necessary conditions for the emergence of modern producers now that our federal targeted programme Housing offers an extra stimulus for that.

Now I’d like to briefly highlight the indicators of the programme being implemented. Total funding for 2009-2018 is 79.7 billion roubles, including 57.5 billion roubles in funds from the federal budget. Regional budgets account for 21 billion roubles, and non-budget sources account for 2.1 billion roubles. Federal budget funding for capital construction comes in two major channels: subsidies for co-funding of construction of regional and municipal capital buildings (51.7 billion roubles) and budget investment in the Russian Federation state property facilities (5.6 billion roubles). Subsidies of 10.2 billion roubles were extended primarily for construction and reinforcement of earthquake-resistant housing and public facilities.

Implementation of the programme’s measures in this period made it possible to erect a total of 70 earthquake-proof buildings with a total area of 119,000 square metres, reinforce the earthquake resistance of 37 buildings with a total area of 148,000 square metres, as well as three schools, two hospitals, two outpatient clinics and five day-care centres, and begin the construction of two residential buildings with a total area of 95,000 square metres near the Tayozhny neighbourhood in the town of Tynda, Amur Region.

During the first stage of the programme, state customers of the programme directed budget investment to the facilities belonging to the Russian Federation located in the Far East and in North Caucasus Federal District.

Unfortunately, in 2012 some constituent entities of the Russian Federation were not ready to implement this programme and eight regions failed to submit their proposals or submitted incomplete proposals for funding enterprises, and therefore it was impossible to transfer subsidies from the federal budget. To date, the total undistributed funds amount to 445 million roubles. We plan to redistribute the remaining funds for reinforcing earthquake resistance and building new structures in the regions that have successfully prepared but are short on money.

So, in 2012 we will fund programme measures in 19 of 27 regions taking part in the implementation of this programme.

In conclusion, I’d like to highlight the main problems that are currently cause for some concern. The programmes adopted in regions, unfortunately, have a formal character primarily because they failed to conduct the microzonation that I mentioned in the beginning, they have no maps of detailed seismic risks in specific districts. These programmes do not include clear lists of facilities needing urgent reinforcement against earthquakes; do not include schedules to reinforce  earthquake resistance. Meanwhile, I think that the proposals made today by regional governors are well founded, these proposals seek to simplify the procedure of introducing changes in the list of facilities within the programme. With my colleagues from the Ministry of Economic Development, I will work on this issue in the near-term, and I think we will find ways to solve this problem  

To conclude, I’d like to draw the attention of regional governors to the basic tasks that should be solved for the sake of the efficient implementation of the programme. I ask you to submit to the Ministry of Regional Development by July 20 the proposals on establishing indicators registering the reduction of the number of buildings with inferior earthquake resistance. These indicators should be distributed over the years in which the programme be implemented with account of funding. It is necessary to conclude the development and adoption of the plans of territorial planning with elaborate details of seismic risks according to districts. I want to remind you once again that this work should be concluded by January 1 2013 – this will be an obligatory condition for extending subsidies.    

When designing buildings, it is necessary to take into account the use of state-of-the art technologies of large-scale housing construction, primarily low-rise housing construction. In the short-term we will bring together the best practices and will send the albums of uniform projects to regions. It is necessary to review the approaches to designing reinforcements against earthquakes. It is necessary, where possible, to end the practice of transforming residential buildings into concrete agglomerations since these buildings are not quite comfortable to live in, to begin with. In this regard, we will monitor the technical solutions proposed to regions under regional programmes.    

I want to highlight the fifth point for regional governors. The Ministry of Regional Development will propose redistributing its financial resources in favour of other programme participants if the regions fail to abide by specific terms regarding the allocation of subsidies. I would like to hope that the regional leaders would tackle these issues in a responsible manner and that we won’t have to do this.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Govorun. Let’s hear some opinions. I now give the floor to the Governor of the Kamchatka Territory, partly in gratitude for hosting our event today. After that, I will ask Vladimir Smirnov, the Director of the Centre for Research on Structural Seismic Stability, to make a statement. After that, you can decide who will speak.

Mr Ilyukhin (Addressing Vladimir Ilyukhin), you have the floor.

Vladimir Ilyukhin (Kamchatka Territory Governor): Thank you, Mr Medvedev. Good afternoon, colleagues. Many believe that Kamchatka is sitting on a powder keg. There are many active volcanoes in this seismically active area. This also implies both tsunamis and earthquakes. There are many quake-prone territories in Russia, but few of them face such a complicated situation as ours. Judging by the specific forecasts that have been mentioned here today, a destructive magnitude nine earthquake seems possible in Avacha Bay near the southeastern coast of the peninsula. In that case, the territorial capital and nearby districts would be the hardest hit. The Ministry for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief estimates that an earthquake might damage up to 70% of the buildings. It appears that 50% of these buildings could collapse, that about 40,000 people might be trapped under the rubble, and that 110,000 people could lose their homes and flats. Considering the fact that Kamchatka is a peninsular and enclave territory, it would be a lot to expect assistance in the first 24 hours. So we would have to rely on our own resources. Mr Medvedev, you have considered this issue. Oleg Kozhemyako who has seen such events and who was involved in them is also here. After the 2006 earthquake in the Koryak Autonomous Area, we were only able to reach people about three days after the disaster. Fortunately, no one was killed during those magnitude nine tremours, but rural housing and social facilities were seriously damaged. We had to fly in all essential items, including food, tents, diesel generators, heaters and clothes, from the south, that is, from Magadan and Khabarovsk. The homeless were airlifted here, to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Yelizovo. At that time, the northern villages lacked emergency supplies.

The Kamchatka Territory now ranks as Russia’s second largest territory in terms of its material resources. Apart from the territorial reserve, various reserves have been stockpiled in all peninsula districts, including even the remotest communities. However, we realise that it’s pointless to prepare for the aftermath. We must do our best to prevent such an aftermath, to minimise specific risks and to ensure the safety of the population. We were able to start working on these objectives only after the programme to increase the quake resistance of residential buildings was launched in 2009. We are grateful for the assistance here in Kamchatka, and we have already spent about 4.5 billion roubles. A new safe residential area has been built in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Almost 900 families who lived in buildings which could not be retrofitted have received new flats. An additional 37 residential buildings and eight social facilities have been made more quake-resistant. People can see that the state cares about them, they have believed us, and we, of course, must continue to implement this programme. That’s why I would like to thank you, Mr Medvedev, for signing this resolution today. We consider it to be very important.

Today, we are ready to launch construction of a new residential area comprising an additional 700 flats. We have completed the construction forms and plans, the inspections have been conducted, and the construction site has been demarcated. The entire project is budgeted for 2.3 billion roubles. We currently lack this funding. We have decided to launch the construction of this residential area’s first phase worth about 600 million roubles. We are also ready to build more low-rise blocks of flats in line with the project mentioned by Oleg Govorun. We believe this is the best project for us. Low-rise buildings will enable us to create comfortable and safe living conditions, but funding is still a problem.

We are to receive about 2.7 billion roubles by 2015 under the new quake resistance programme. This sum, plus co-financing, will only be enough to build the new residential area and to reinforce a number of social facilities. As for increasing the quake resistance of buildings, Mr Medvedev, I agree with your statements, as well as with those of Mr Govorun. You noted that we should not reinforce dilapidated buildings today because this is an ineffective way to spend this minimal federal funding. Such buildings are 40-50 years old, and it takes 30-50 million roubles to reinforce each building. Is this justifiable? We’ll re-examine this issue five, eight or ten years from now. Something will have to be done about such buildings, which are listed in the high-risk category. The business community might demolish them and build other facilities in their place because the utilities and sites already exist. All one has to do is tear them down and build something else instead. We have been trying to resolve this issue since 2011, but, unfortunately, we are unable to do this. I am asking you to help us on this issue. I hope this can now be resolved one way or another.

Of course, we are unable to deal with the problem of relocating the tenants of quake-prone residential buildings. It now takes 65,000-68,000 roubles to build one square metre of housing including the utility and other infrastructure elements in the region. At the same time, construction costs in other Russian regions are about 40,000 roubles. Consequently, we need about two or three billion roubles to rebuild the city in the next five to seven years and to increase the quake resistance of the rather unreliable social facilities. The territorial construction industry is now picking up momentum, and it is ready to work on this scale. We have confirmed this by completing all the required work to build the new residential area. We are ready to allocate up to a billion roubles from the territorial budget for the project. We have already discussed this issue with the deputies.

We realise that construction at state expense alone is not the best option, and that extra-budgetary allocations must also be attracted. We have accumulated some experience. A CEO from the Kamchatka Fishing Company is investing 300 million roubles in the construction of three residential buildings with 120 flats. This will enable us to relocate people from two dormitories. A tender is currently underway, and I believe that we’ll be able to launch this project in the near future. I have already noted that we will be forced to launch construction of a new residential area. We must take out loans for this purpose because we lack our own funding, and because we have allocated the programme’s funds.

I would like to dwell on another issue separately. A major earthquake in southern Kamchatka is likely to damage infrastructure facilities there. Mr Medvedev, thanks to your support and to your attention to this issue, and thanks to the attention of Vladimir Putin, we have launched a large project to reconstruct the only territorial airport, which links this area with mainland Russia. This project is to be completed in two years, that is, in 2014, and I hope that we will also be building the airport complex based on the conditions we discussed in Vladivostok, based on a public-private partnership.

The most sensitive issue for us is the construction of a new territorial hospital. The existing hospital compound is located in an earthquake-prone region, in the vicinity of Komsomolskaya Square, which is a magnitude 10 area and deterioration on the buildings is over 80%. If a high magnitude earthquake hits, the hospital will be reduced to rubble.

We have raised this issue several times. We already have an approved draft project. Knowing how important this project is for Kamchatka, we started implementing it last year using allocations of 400 million roubles from the territorial budget. The site has been prepared for construction: we are completing the drainage stage and our recent talks with the Ministry of Healthcare have given us hope of receiving state assistance. Mr Medvedev, I hope that you will support this project, because it is really vitally important for us.

We not only need to stop the population drain from the north, but also create safe [working and living] conditions for people and take all the necessary measures in the event of a strong earthquake.

We see that special attention is being given to the Far East: a new ministry has been established, with which we are actively cooperating, and we have big joint plans with the new leadership of the Ministry of Regional Development. Thank you for the attention you are giving to our region.

Kamchatka is not Russia’s periphery; it is its eastern outpost, its nuclear shield and a major fishing area, and hence we believe that its development should be given special attention. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Ilyukhin. I am giving the floor to Mr Smirnov. Please.

Vladimir Smirnov (Head of the Centre for Research of the Seismic Stability of Buildings at the Construction federal research centre, Vice-President of the Russian Association for Earthquake Engineering): Mr Medvedev, colleagues. I’d like to say that not a single country can reinforce all of its buildings, and even a country as rich as Japan is not reinforcing existing buildings, some of which are not seismic resistant, but instead is building new ones. Mr Oleg Govorun has said that there are two reasons for insufficient seismic resistance. The first is that some buildings are not earthquake-proof, because they were built when there were no regulations for building in earthquake-prone regions.

The second reason is that we introduced new seismic zoning maps in 1997, increasing the seismic rating of some regions by one, two or even three grades, which means that the seismic load for buildings has increased by a factor of two, three or even eight in some cases. We need to take this into account, and the seismic strengthening techniques we propose should take this increased seismic load into consideration.

Another thing I’d like to say is that the agenda of the World Conference on Seismic Isolation, which was held in Sochi last year (the first time it was held in Russia), included seismic retrofitting of existing buildings. Since we are in principle involved in this issue, the Centre never stops working on the means of seismic upgrading and we can offer you several modern methods for modifying existing structures to make them more resistant to seismic activity.

My impressions of what I saw in Kamchatka were more negative than positive, considering the money being spent on the seismic upgrading of these buildings… First of all, they are using obsolete methods. Of course, these buildings will be more seismically resistant, providing safety for people, but the amounts spent, the methods used, which are obsolete… There are many newer methods for seismic upgrading, which should be used in this case. They are upgrading structures that were built 40, 50, and some of them even 60 years ago, and their economic life has come to an end. It’s been said here that these buildings are no longer comfortable to live in, yet we are investing in upgrading them. We need to determine which buildings should be upgraded, and which should be demolished and new housing built in their place.

The Centre for Research into the Seismic Stability of Buildings was created in 1960; fortunately for us, it survived perestroika and continues to operate. We have created rather effective seismic protection methods for buildings, including seismic isolation. Mr Govorun mentioned this. We have positive examples of the construction and upgrade of such buildings in Sakhalin, in Irkutsk, in the Altai (we upgraded a drama theatre there following a powerful earthquake) and in Grozny. In short, we have positive examples. Besides, [the buildings we upgraded], for example in Irkutsk, have survived subsequent earthquakes, which means that the methods we offer are quite effective.

I have enumerated our earthquake-prone regions – Sakhalin, the Baikal area, Khakassia, the Altai, and the North Caucasus, including the Krasnodar Territory. Buildings are being upgraded there with the help of local specialists, but we should consolidate our methods and hence one of my proposals is that the Ministry of Regional Development should instruct our Centre to draft a catalogue of seismic retrofitting. We did this under the Seismic Safety of Russia programme; we designed seismic upgrade methods for old standardised buildings, so it stands to reason that we should continue doing this. I would also like to say that we first need to determine which buildings should be upgraded and which should be demolished. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you very much. Please, who would like to speak next? Mr Kozhemyako, you accumulated certain experience in this area back when you worked in the Koryak area. Please go ahead.

Oleg Kozhemyako (Governor of the Amur Region): Mr Medvedev, colleagues, following your instructions on relocating people from dilapidated buildings near the Baikal-Amur Mainline in the Amur Region, the city of Tynda has been included in the targeted federal programme Seismic Safety for 2009-2014. Under this programme, the regional government analysed the data on the quality of housing with insufficient earthquake resistance in Tynda last year. Following that analysis and considering that we needed to build houses quickly and in a seismic prone area, we decided to build three types of low-rise pre-fabricated houses based on the experience of the Koryak area and Chukotka. Within a period of two months, our civil engineering institute KhabarovskGrazhdanProyekt made the necessary designs of low-rise pre-fabricated housing for the Tayozhny Neighbourhood in the city of Tynda. A sub-programme of that project makes provision for building houses with increased seismic resistance. We approved a 35-hectare area for this neighbourhood, which was the only suitable site. Unfortunately, that site did not have the necessary engineering infrastructure and as the cost of building roads and internal and external supply systems, including water, sewage and heat systems, was included in the cost of housing, co-financing by the region increased from 30% to 50%.The buildings were estimated to cost 5.2 billion roubles in 2011 prices with a total floor space of 90,000 square metres. A housing estate with 66 houses will be built in two phases, 27 houses in the first phase and 39 in the second. To organise housing construction in Tynda it was necessary to put in place a powerful production base with metal assembly, wood-working shops and a concrete mixing unit. Pursuant to the directive on the single customer, BureyaGEStroy, a branch of the Severnoye construction authority was set up which has experience of building in permafrost and earthquake-prone areas. A contract for the first construction phase (10 houses) was signed with BureyaGEStroy on 10 May, and under the plan 27 houses with a total floor space of 54,000 sq.m. will be built in 2012 to house 2,200 people.

In June this year an agreement was signed with the Regional Development Ministry on allocating federal budget subsidies to the Amur Region in 2012. This year, as of 29 June, 242 million roubles from the regional and federal budgets have been spent. To date the following work has been completed: four houses have been built and are now having the finishing touches applied, the frames of four more houses have been erected, and the foundations have been laid for two more houses. As a result, in 2012-2014 we will have completed internal and external utilities networks and amenities in the adjacent area. The implementation of the programme will result in 3,673 residents being relocated and 121,000 square metres of rundown housing in Tynda being pulled down, so that this issue can then be closed. I would also like to thank the Regional Development Ministry for its efficiency in the last stages of the work, for transferring the funds, and for the regular consultations with the region so that the programme is moving forward and we are actually building the housing which is the subject of discussion here.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. Who would like to take the floor?

Sholban Kara-oll (Head of the Republic of Tuva): May I? Dmitry Medvedev: Yes, go ahead please.

Sholban Kara-oll: Mr. Medvedev, thank you very much for your support for our republic. Meeting with you in this narrow circle I would like to stress that the work of the new government, which involves visits to the regions, is very precious because, as the saying goes, it is better to see once for yourself than to just continually discuss things. So, thank you very much for this approach.

Regarding the Republic of Tuva I would like to say this. Regrettably, on 27 December, when the temperature outside was minus 43 degrees Celsius, an earthquake struck which was force 8 at the epicenter and about force 6 in the capital. Thank God, there was no loss of life, but buildings and structures were damaged. There was another magnitude 6.7-6.9 earthquake on 26 February and most recently on 6 June one of force 5.2. So, earthquakes in the republic continue, there have been 249 of them within a short space of time.

Of course, we did not plan for this. Given the kind of heavily subsidised budget that we have, we have the funds to match the government financing of the government programme. To be honest, this is a big problem for us because co-financing accounts for 380 million roubles and if you consider that our capital, for example, is very short of energy (shortage of heating and electricity) in order to build these 140 flats and houses we need 850 million roubles for the networks alone. Frankly, we do not publicise these problems because we do not want people to be unduly worried about our problems.

We implore the Finance Ministry to at least give us a budget loan so that we can solve these problems because even if we turn out our pockets, the money is not there, to our great shame and regret. If that money is not forthcoming we will be unable to report to Oleg Govorun that we have fulfilled the requirements of the programme.

Just the other day, on 3 July, we received 800 million roubles and the deadline has come for holding all the tenders for building these houses. I would like to assure you that we are making every effort to cope with the range of tasks we are facing. As regards seismic resistance, we are trying to marshal all the resources coming our way (the housing certificates and, frankly, even the money for orphans) to translate them into new housing. But we understand that the price of 28,000 roubles per square metre in a republic with just one road for bringing all the supplies, this is not a figure that we can fit into. Sometimes it becomes absurd: the so-called new technologies do not always match the climate in Tuva and we sometimes face a problem when these technologies do not suit Siberia and our republic. In short, we would like the programme to be approached not formally, but to be discussed in a more hands-on manner. I was pleased to hear Oleg Govorun say that the Regional Development Ministry is going to revise its approach and be more attentive to the specifics of each region. We would like this to be the case.

As regards preparation for the winter, we managed to protect, under the documents we were able to prepare for the technical structures, such as boiler rooms and so on, about 5-6 million roubles as part of that programme. But to be absolutely honest, if you visit these facilities, they should have been bulldozed a long time ago and modern boiler rooms built in their place, which would be much cheaper than reinforcing the old ones to resist earthquakes. Vladimir Smirnov has said that perhaps it would make sense to centralise decision-making and create a building organisation for the express purpose of improving seismic resistance of buildings. Because not everyone, not even all the builders, understands what it is about. Perhaps we should give some thought to this?

And another important thing I wanted to ask you about is joint financing from the federal and regional budgets. After all, we are talking about natural disasters here. If possible, we would like the Finance Ministry to step in on the matter of co-financing. Of course we will pay back the budget loan, but I would like to ask for help in that regard. And I would like to take advantage, Mr Medvedev, of the presence of the Transport Minister. Our republic has only one “lifeline” road, the M-54 motorway. Just recently, because of endless earthquakes and perhaps torrential rains too, there was a landslide. So, transport accessibility in our republic is limited. Big trucks are forbidden to use M-54 federal motorway.

I have repeatedly referred to the Transport Ministry (and have received approvals) and to Mr.Medvedev, asking the Transport Ministry to pay special attention to the issue of offering alternative M-54 routes through the republic. I’m asking you to receive me over this matter. I’m sorry for raising such a minor issue.

Going back to the question of seismic resistance improvement, I would like to thank you, Mr. Medvedev, for the Government’s support of the Republic of Tyva. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. Colleagues, who will be next? Of course, I will give the floor to the ministers, but I just want to know if the governors have any comments. If not, I’ll open the floor to the ministers. Maxim Sokolov, go ahead, please (addressing the Transport Minister).

Maxim Sokolov:  Mr.Medvedev, regarding transport infrastructure, the design of infrastructure development projects, especially in the Kamchatka Region, we proceed from the parameters you set forth in your speech about strengthening seismic resistance, that is, we are not retrofitting old structures but are committed to demolishing them to be replaced by new construction. For example, we are planning the reconstruction of the sea terminal…

Remark: You probably mean construction?

Maxim Sokolov: Reconstruction involving demolition, let’s put it that way. Already 500 million roubles have been committed to this project. We are not just talking about the terminal building, but in general, the Federal Targeted Programme for transport system development earmarks 1.3 billion roubles to improve the seismic stability of port transport infrastructure, but also regarding flatwork structures, berth walls, which may require reconstruction. As regards other facilities, we try to use local materials which, while keeping in mind seismic resistance standards, as tests have shown, are even stronger than inert materials brought from outside. We are talking about the reconstruction of the airport, the runways, the item Vladimir Ilyukhin mentioned. This year we are planning to spend 5.4 billion roubles and next year a further 6 billion to complete the reconstruction of Runway 1 on an accelerated schedule to meet current seismic resistance requirements.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you.

Andrei Ivanov (Deputy Finance Minister): Mr.Medvedev, esteemed colleagues. First of all, I would like to make three proposals concerning the draft resolution.

Dmitry Medvedev: Go ahead.

Andrei Ivanov: Proposal one. Of course, we understand and approve and believe that fulfilling the federal targeted programme to improve the stability of residential houses and so on is a national priority, but we are proceeding within your directives, Mr. Mevedev, that you issued to the Budget Projections Commission regarding the parameters of the federal budget and the deficit, especially considering the alarming situation in world financial markets. Given that the programme has already been agreed upon (you approved it) we would like you to issue two directives to us: the first directive, because, as the Finance Minister said, we approved it with the understanding that the Regional Development Ministry would see if there are opportunities within current budget projections to bring in additional resources for the programme. I hasten to report to you that the amount for three years – 2013, 2014 and 2015 – is 12.25 billion roubles, that’s the additional amount.

Cost-cutting of the Investment Fund will be over 10 billion roubles. That’s as regards the projects that will be partly financed through allocations from the federal budget for the Western High-Speed Diameter. There will also be savings as regards the Oryol Tunnel project: the allocation has been canceled because the region has abandoned the project and is not co-funding it. Within this context we ask you to direct us and the Ministry of Regional Development to consider this as an additional source of funding for the progamme.

And secondly, because of the special importance of this programme, and I would not like to report specific results by region, but at the end of 2011 and at the end of this year, the cash fulfillment of this programme stands at about 70% in 2011 and the figure will be still lower this year.

We are asking for your instructions to be directed to the Ministry of Regional Development together with the Ministry of Economic Development and the Finance Ministry to approve quarterly cash plans to fulfill each year of this programme, including the Ministry of Regional Development spending and the spending by the regions themselves. And we would like the outlays to be distributed equally between the quarters, and if the regions or the Ministry of Regional Development fail to meet the targets, that should be reported to the government with a statement citing the reasons and an action plan to eliminate the shortfall, because the way this programme is being implemented is unprecedented relative to other federal targeted programmes.

Besides, before you approved the draft government resolution, the Finance Ministry made some fundamental remarks which were ignored because the programme required urgent approval. We ask to be given an opportunity to agree on the results of the fulfillment of the programme and some other critical issues so as to introduce clarifications both concerning the programme’s target indictors (we want them to be more quantifiable, measurable and specific because we have our own thoughts on that) and concerning the newly created properties of the Russian Federation and the Russian regions and municipalities. We would like these properties to be created within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, the regions and municipal entities so that we do not rush into the energy sector when privately owned companies are able to finance new projects and the reconstruction of existing ones, so that we do not assume the obligations of commercial organisations. These are our three proposals. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you.

Andrei Ivanov: I’m sorry, Mr.Medvedev, I did not respond to Tyva’s proposal concerning a budget loan.

According to the general rule, based on the results of the first six or nine months, we report to you our proposals on the balance and the implementation of the budgets by the regions of the Russian Federation. That is how the form of assistance to a region (not necessarily a budget loan) will be determined within the current legislation, because if the programme approves co-financing obligations, we will have to balance the financial state of the region under the standard procedures. Whether it is a budget loan or some other form of assistance will become clear once we look at the results of the budget implementation for the current period, for six months or nine months.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. So, we have heard the opinion of the Finance Ministry. Vladimir Puchkov, does the Emergencies Ministry have anything to say? Or are you quite happy as things stand now?

Vladimir Puchkov (Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief): Mr Medvedev, we are working in close cooperation with the regions while implementing the programme, and we support the proposal on demolishing and deep reconstruction of the affected buildings. I would like to draw your attention to two points. The first is the need to set up stocks of necessary material and technical resources since a number of regions and a number of municipalities have very complicated traffic routes for delivery. Thus we have already arranged the necessary activities. That’s the first point.

And secondly, concerning earthquake safety, we have discussed this. Together with the Russian Academy of Sciences we have already created a segment of the coastal tsunami warning and monitoring system. Tsunamis also present a grave danger, and I would like to ask all the heads of the respective regions and all the bodies involved in implementing the first stage of this programme to continue their work, since new approaches and modern technologies have emerged on identifying, alerting the population and taking all operative measures. Provision has been made on all other measures. I think that the implementation of the programme and the approaches outlined today will improve the safety of the population of the region. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. You’re welcome. But please do not repeat what you have already told me, okay? Briefly…

Viktor Chebrov (Director of the Kamchatka Branch of the Geophysical Service at the Russian Academy of Sciences): I would like to focus on the following: the seismic hazard in all the regions is potentially high, but it varies. No two earthquakes have exactly the same parameters in their epicentres, and they all occur in very different ways. I am appealing for a more detailed study of this danger in each particular region within the framework of this programme. Unfortunately, let me repeat, they vary: earthquakes in California, earthquakes in Kamchatka, earthquakes in the Caucasus – they are all different.

Regarding the continuation of work within the federal targeted programmes. Decreasing risks in terms of developing a tsunami monitoring and warning system: yes, we are continuing this work within the federal programme. Last year we started the first stage of setting up a system of comprehensive monitoring of volcanic activity, also within the Federal Targeted Programme “Reducing the Risks…”, and I hope the results are going to be good. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you very much.

Colleagues, we are holding a working meeting and I like the way it is being held, with no excessive lyricism or pathos. Yet we are talking about a very complicated matter, so that’s why, in order to help us stay focused, I will sum it up.

First, I would like to reiterate: I have approved the programme, and I hope that all the regions under the programme will treat it as efficiently as possible. Because there is never enough money for everything, as our colleagues from the economic departments say, we face a very complicated situation not just domestically, but first and foremost I am referring to the situation in the global economy.

Why am I saying this? We have to value the money and make the most of the programme. I am drawing your attention to what our colleagues were saying, what Mr Andrey Ivanov said – how the programme is executed financially. Look, if we find the money for something it has to be used properly. We talked about this with Mr Ilyukhin, but this criticism is not addressed to him because he was not involved with that, that money was not even released in Kamchatka. This is a complete mess! The money is not being spent in the most dangerous location. We will have to re-tailor that financing scheme because it is evident that Kamchatka has to be financed. It’s a scandal.

I draw the attention of the governors, both those present here and those who are absent, who are recipients of funds under that programme: raise your hands if you do not need the money, and we won’t give you the funds, we’ll cross you out of the programme, but if something happens you will have to answer personally for the fact that the money wasn’t spent.

Now onto what needs to be done under the programme. Well, I totally agree with what’s been said today by practically everyone present, including our experts: we should not spend money on reinforcing facilities that will have to be demolished anyway five years from now, those structures that are unfit to live in and disgusting to enter. If they are reinforced from outside with some sort of constructions, it will not make life any better.

If you make an evaluation of everything you have, then all things being equal, I believe it is much more important to build new houses. Maybe in a particular and very special situation something could be reinforced but on the whole we should focus on new development. What sort of construction? Well, this is also quite obvious. Ours is a very large country, my friends, and when we are trying to build multi-storey houses in earthquake-prone areas, we are simply making extra problems for ourselves. We have to build low-storey buildings, we need generic designs, which we have, so use them.  They don’t even have to be paid for.  

Moving on. On those nuances that exist in terms of specifying target indicators, new facilities under construction, property rights on the new facilities. I support the Finance Ministry in this respect regarding the target indicators and how these funds are spent. We definitely have to pay attention to the infrastructure as well, but infrastructure should be dealt with by commercial organisations, and generally this situation is okay except for some particular cases. And generally those funds that are provided by the programme should be spent on building new homes. Let’s agree on that because it seems pretty obvious to me. I am not against looking into additional sources for the programme within the framework of the relations between the Finance Ministry and the Ministry for Regional Development – you are welcome, I assign these issues for the ministers to deal with.

And finally, I would like to support our colleagues who are engaged in the monitoring and scientific support of both earthquakes and tsunamis. It’s clear that every region should conduct their own detailed analysis of earthquake-related characteristics and problems because all the specific characteristics of your region and the subtleties of the problems need to be taken into account so that we don’t try to build again in earthquake-prone or unprofitable areas. I remember when we were doing this in Koryakia, we chose several places so that we didn’t end up building again somewhere it would all be swept away if something happened. In the end they arrived at some more or less acceptable compromise solutions. People usually think like that: there was something here, let’s rebuild everything. It is not evident that this is correct. We need to take rational decisions backed by scientific arguments and reasonable pragmatic calculations.

As to what Mr Puchkov spoke about and what my esteemed colleagues from the institute told me, I mean Mr Chebrov. I would like to see the relevant document on tsunamis prepared. You were right in stating that an early detection and warning system has been set up but in some cases the funding isn’t there to operate the system. We must do everything to ensure the system works, both in the Pacific area and according to the activities of the respective institutes.  Please submit your proposals, and I would like those proposals to be approved by the Academy of Sciences. I would also like Mr Ishayev to pay attention to this because this is a regional responsibility.  

Well, that’s it, colleagues, in general I am counting on our intensive cooperation on this new version of the programme until 2018. Everything is in our hands. Good-bye.