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Mining town and people

Khaidarkan feels like a frontier town, but a quiet one. Even the market seems relaxed and unhurried. The few people in the streets are friendly enough to visitors, but they do not bother to hide their concern about the future of the kombinat – and their own. It is in every sense a company town. Not only does the town’s economy depend on the mercury mine – for example, irrigation water is also supplied directly by the kombinat. The town is home to about 10,000 people. In 1989 3,500 of Khaidarkan’s townspeople were directly employed by the kombinat. That number
had fallen to 1,500 by the mid-1990s, and to 750 in 2008. The main alternative employment is agriculture – livestock, or growing apples, potatoes, carrots and cereals. Some 40% of people in Batken province still earn less than the minimum subsistence level. There are not many options for job-seekers in this district of south-western Kyrgyzstan,
  which explains the anxiety in the town that the kombinat should continue working, even if it has to fid a very different raison d’etre. This in turn probably helps to explain the apparent indifference of many people in Khaidarkan to the possibility that they are living in a polluted environment.

Further afild, though, food and textile industries and
service sectors are expanding in the Batken province,
where Khaidarkan is located. This should hopefully provide more opportunities for work for the people of Khaidarkan. Many of the province’s young people also work in Kazakhstan and Russia, sending remittances home to support their families. But with the diffiult global economic situation causing many people working abroad to return to Kyrgyzstan, employment and income for the entire region is likely to fall even further.

 
Mining town and people

 

 

 

 

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