Kruščica residents against ‘illegal HPPs’ gathered for a quiet protest in Travnik


„We won’t give our river up!,“ is the message of Thursday’s peaceful protest held by the people Kruščica, village in Central Bosnia Canton, and the representatives of the Coalition for the Protection of BiH Rivers. Citizens gathered in front of the Cantonal institution buildings in the region’s capital to express their disapproval with the construction of mini hydropower plants on Kruščica River. The rally was preceded by a hearing for the Kruščica 2 HPP held on Monday, November 12 in Travnik. The Kruščica 1 HPP shall be discussed next Friday on November 23.

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Through this assembly, locals, together with environmentalists and activists, aim to raise public awareness about the consequences of the construction of said facilities on the environment and on the quality of life of people living by the river.

”We are expecting the court to consider all circumstances under which the investors obtained permits, for it clearly did not happen under the law. We are expecting that the court will abolish the licenses,” stated Tahira Mika Tibold, Kruščica community president.

The Coalition for Protection of BiH Rivers emphasizes that they gather here to support people from Kruščica in their struggle to secure the very basic human right-- access to drinking water. Villagers of Kruščica lack a proper water supply system despite the fact that two larger towns, Vitez and the city of Zenica, have been supplied by the river in the question for the last 49 years.

According to the relevant water act, the use of the river for water supply, sanitation needs, and fire protection is superior to other purposes, including electricity generation, environmentalists point out.

Private investors did not comply with the valid procedure when purchasing the necessary permits. According to the spatial plan of Vitez municipality for the period of 2005-2025, the area has been protected as a Nature Park since the Austro-Hungarian era. However, this spatial plan was amended on March 9, 2016 to enable the construction of said hydropower plants.

People defending the Kruščica River ultimately aim to restore the former protected status of the neighborhood so that future generations can rejoice from its beauty, and provide the locals with access to drinking water. Their struggle started in August 2017, when the locals prevented heavy machinery from entering the Kruščica riverbed by blocking the crucial bridge. Despite several police attacks, they have been guarding the road ever since.

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