Environmental organizations from Western Balkans against the construction of small hydropower plants on the Balkan rivers

3.12.2018 - BANJA LUKA (BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA)

Rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in other Balkan countries are threatened by massive boom of small hydro power plants construction. Activists struggling to preserve them are often under pressure from investors and government structures close to investors, and the local communities are ignored. The strength for the defence of nature and people is in the solidarity of civil society organizations, local communities and individuals who support the struggle for the preservation of the rivers.

Members of ecological organizations and international experts who support local communities gathered last weekend in Banja Luka (BiH) to discuss an analysis on economic feasibility of concession fees and subsidies for small hydropower plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The presented analysis proves that the established incentive system does not have economic justification and that it is harmful from the society point of view. According to the conclusion of the analysis, the social and financial loss cost up to 2 million Euros annually in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“We are proving that small hydropower plants are not socially, ecologically, but neither economically acceptable nor justified, and we will continue to support local communities that are fighting against such projects” Viktor Bjelić from the Center for Environment said.

“When we found out that a small hydro power plant will be built on the Doljanka river in the municipality of Jablanica, we were unaware that the investor had already obtained all the permits. No one from the local communities on whose territory the construction was planned was involved in the process of public consultation. The Coalition for the Protection of the Rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina has supported us to organize ourselves and express our dissatisfaction with this project; and the experience from Kruščica was of great importance to us” said Dženan Šašić, a representative of the Association for Doljanka River.

The situation is no better in other countries of the region. The local communities of Serbian Stara Planina have resisted the construction of small hydropower plants in the heart of a protected area for a long time. Also local communities from northern Montenegro have stood up against these harmful projects that pose a threat to their way of life and limit their access to fresh water.

“Local communities have organized themselves and raised their voice against these projects because their rights and sustainable development of the region are threatened. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the examples of the Doljanka and Kruščica rivers are very similar to the examples of the Komarača, Vinica and Bukovica river in Montenegro. The positions and opinions of people living along these rivers are completely ignored and they are not adequately informed and consulted about the projects planned in their environments. It is important that civil society demonstrates solidarity and makes it clear to the authorities and to the energy lobby that small hydropower projects are harmful to nature and people”. − Aleksandar Perovic from the Ecological Movement Ozon from Nikšić said.

Workshops were prepared with financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic within the framework of the Transition Promotion Programme - an assistance programme supporting democracy and human rights using the Czech Republic´s experience with social transition and democratization.

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