Mayor favors Railways and prolongs the agony of the residents in the Ložionička street

29.10.2016 - Banja Luka

BANJA LUKA/ On August 10th 2016, the Mayor of Banja Luka, Slobodan Gavranović, announced that the decision prohibiting the storage of bauxite on the land of twentieth track railway station in Ložionička street, will be delayed for 90 days. 

The environmental inspector of the City Administration Banja Luka has issued a decision to the company "Railways of the Republic of Srpska" ad Doboj (RRS). This decision prohibits the storage of bauxite ore on Ložionička Street. The decision was preceded by a series of actions taken by the citizens of this street.  The citizens notified the environmental inspector numerous times of the violations against the legislation on Environmental Protection.

Regarding the decision of the inspector, RRS appealed to the second instance body, the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Construction and Ecology of Republic of Srpska on the 05.07.2016.  The ministry rejected the appeal as unfounded and thus upheld the decision of the environmental inspector. After that, on the 26.07.2016, an inspection was carried out in order to control the execution of the decision. The company, RRS, was informed that the decision will be enforced on 08.16.2016. beginning at 10 am. On the 05.08.2016, RRS filed a motion to delay enforcement of the decision for 90 days which the Mayor of Banja Luka accepted. The mayor explained that the delay is not against the public interest. Although there is a legal basis for the delay of the enforcement, we believe that it is extremely unfair to hold off the enforcement that has received confirmation from the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Construction and the Ecology of Republic of Srpska. Thus, this delay leaves the environmental problems of this street to the incoming Mayor.

Residents of Ložionička and surrounding streets have launched this case because of the violation of their basic human rights of having a healthy environment. It is extremely contradictory to claim that the delay of for enforcing the decision prohibits the storage of bauxite ore because this is not in public interest. Not a single permit for this activity exists in the RRS nor the "Bauxite Mines" either. Still, the same thing happens," said Viktor Bjelić from the Aarhus Centre Banja Luka.

The Centre for Environment filed a criminal complaint against the "Bauxite Mine" of Banja Luka in June 2015. They cited RRS as one of related entities in a potential criminal offense. As far as we know, the inspector questioned only the representative of the Centre which filed this report. We invite District Prosecutor’s Office of Banja Luka to finally examine the allegations in the criminal complaint, call witnesses to questioning, and to examine the role of RRS in the commission of a crime relating to the land plot and location conditions where these activities are carried out. As stated in the criminal complaint, there is an obvious connection between "Bauxite Mine" and RRS. This connection has been at the expense of citizens and the environment. Therefore, we claim that in this case, the public interest was ignored.

Although the whole story was brought to public attention by the residents because of the noise and dust, in recent years a variety of information has come to light that indicates unjust and criminal actions of the participants in the business of bauxite.

The Mayor received us at his office at a meeting on 27.04.2016. and offered his support in resolving this issue. He argued that such activity should not take place within the City. He made a proposal to relocate activities from this location. It is shameful that after a decision has been made regarding the prohibition of storage bauxite ore from the environmental inspector of the City Administration Banja Luka, the mayor brought this conclusion. The agony of our residents is extended for another three months. Also, the "hot potato" is transferred to the new Mayor. We were hoping that this would be the end of the problem of environmental pollution in the City of Banja Luka. The citizens of Ložionička and surrounding streets believed in the institutions of the City and State Government but were deeply disappointed and angered by the Mayor. The residents of Ložionička and surrounding streets hope that the new Mayor will have more understanding for their rights. They also hope for the support of the work of the inspector whose decision shall be made on 10.11.2016.

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