Save Sana – Stop Kelag!

23.4.2016 - Sana

From the sources of the river Sana, more than 200 kayakers and environmentalists have declared that they will not give up the fight.

Today, more than 200 people, including kayakers, anglers, local people and environmentalists, have protested at the international protest against the hydropower plant Medna that is being already under construction. The contractor is Austrian-German company Kelag. Sana is one of the last remaining river in Europe where Danube salmon, an important fish species globally endangered, lives.

”We will not give up the Sana and our struggle against Kelag”, said Nataša Crnković from the Centre for Environment – an organization fighting against the construction of this hydropower plant for more than seven years together with the other 22 organizations gathered in the Coalition for the Sana. ”We appeal to the Minister Golić to review decisions of the Ministry and stop one of the worst projects in the Republic of Srpska,” says Nataša.

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The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy and Croatia took part in the protest along with a large number of local people. ”99% of the local population oppose the construction of hydropower plant, however, our opinion have been ignored so far by national authorities,” says Ljubomir Lisica, a resident of the village Landeke situated alongside the Sana, that are suffering negative consequences of the hydropower plant construction for more than a year.

According to the survey of Riverwatch, around 45 million euros have been invested in the recovery of Danube salmon rivers in Austria since 1999. It comprehends removal of river dikes and the other foreign barriers for making space for the river.

“What the KELAG is doing on one of the most important Danube salmon rivers is just shameful. Neither in Germany, nor in Austria would they get away with it”, said Ulrich Eichlemann from Riverwatch and coordinator of the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina has the most stunning rivers in Europe. Rivers like Sana, Una or Neretva are unique. Anglers, kayakers, environmentalists – we all must join forces to prevent the dam craze here and on the entire Balkan Peninsula”, said Rok Rozman, organiser of the Balkan Rivers Tour.

On Saturday 23 April, under the slogan “Save the Balkan Rivers – Stop the Dam Tsunami”, kayakers from Europe were on the river Sana, the eighth river to paddle since their start on the river Sava Bohinjka, on 16 April. The aim of Balkan Rivers Tour is to emphasize the importance of rivers and their vulnerability due to hydropower plants construction. Led by former Olympic athlete Rok Rozman and a founder of Leeway Collective, kayakers from Europe will paddle 18 rivers in six Balkan countries. The tour will end at the river Vjosa in Albania on 20 May. Further information on http://www.balkanriverstour.com/.

For the sixth year in a row, on the occasion of Earth Day on 22 April, and within the Balkan Rivers Tour, Coalition for the Sana organized the protest picnic at the sources of Sana River on Saturday 23 April 2016. With this protest, Coalition appeals for the preservation of sources of Sana River despite the construction of the hydropower plant Medna that is threatening to jeopardize the one of the most beautiful natural heritage of our country.

Protest picnic was supported by Mountain Rescue Service Banja Luka providing safety for all participants.

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To remind ourselves, the investor ‘LSB Elektrane’ Banja Luka owned by ‘Interenergo’ ltd Ljubljana under Kelag International (Austria) is trying to build a small hydropower plant Medna at the sources of the Sana River. Coalition for the Sana developed feasibility study and thus proved unprofitability of this project and a negative financial impact on the budget of the municipalities and the Republic of Srpska in the amount of BAM 1.055.988.

After seven years of the struggle and despite ongoing construction works, it is not late to save the Sana. We hereby declare that we shall ‘not give up the Sana’.

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