Ensara Hodzic, with her parents, sisters and brother for 20 years, lives in Kacuni near Busovaca. Their home is located next to the river bed of the Kozica River that flows through this place, beautifies it and gives it life. It is a river that has beautified many Ensara’s summers and to all people that live in its street. Hodzic family fought all their life against the waste disposal in the Kozica river, and Ensara’s father cleared the medical waste disposal site on its shore and turned it into an orchard. But their fight for the river did not stop there … This is their story.
All alone in the fight for (basic) rights
“Two small hydropower plants have already been built on the Kozica river in the area belonging to the municipality of Fojnica. In 2014 my father was invited to a session of the local community Kacuni with the issue of granting approval for the construction of a small hydropower plant, where he was the only present who did not give his consent for the construction of the hydropower plant. The other members of the working group representing our local community gave their signature and consent because at the session it was stated that the investor would help the local community to introduce public lighting, pay for electricity for the community, and repairing part of the road, for which the municipality of Busovača and the Central Bosnia Canton (SBK) guaranteed. The investor of the project is Amer Jerlagić, publicly known as the former president of the electric power company, and one of the candidates for the presidency of BiH, “Ensara Hodžić begins the story and continues:
“From that day my father spoke himself personally to our community Mayor, who always guaranteed that he would be with him and that he would not allow construction site near our family home. However, at a public tender on February 4, 2015, it was announced that the plant will be built. The project envisages construction of an power house, installed capacity of 550kW, at less than 10 meters from our house. Since we could not expect support from the local population because they were previously convinced that this project will bring more benefits than damage, which is absolutely incorrect and unfounded, my father has hired a lawyer to protect our rights, the basic rights for life. He sent letters to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry of the SBK and the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Construction, Environmental Protection, Return and Housing Affairs and, ofcourse, to the community Mayor Asim Mekic in writing and verbally numerous times. Because of this situation, it is clear that we could not ask for a complete dismissal of the project, nor stop the mentioned “development” of the local community, and our demands as conscientious citizens were that the mentioned engine room is moved 100 meters above or below our yard. From the mentioned ministries, the only person who saw this case realistically and rationally and stood in our protection was Minister Lejla Salkić. One year after this, in 2016, the urban consent is given by Amer Mrako, Minister of Spatial Planning, Construction, Environmental Protection, Return and Housing Affairs. Then my father speks again to the Mayor, who gives him his word and guarantees that the next permit, the building permit will not be issued until our demands are met. ”
Two years have passed since this consent. In November 2018, the decision on the approval for construction is sent to the address of Hodžić, the relevant building permit, which is also signed by Minister Amer Mrako.
«My neighbor is more important than investor»
“In these days, it was very difficult to do anything reasonably and to think positively, with a constant question,” Is this really happening and is this really possible? “. In order to go ahead without stopping in this fight, we were inspired by the Women of Kruščica, and a group of people who won and fought for the Željeznica River in Fojnica “, emphasizes Ensara.
Asim Mekic, Mayor of Busovaca Municipality and President of the SDA Cantonal Committee, and after this permit, Mekic guarantees that nothing will be built until their issue is resolved. However, in July 2018, measurements started across the road of their house, and construction on the mentioned powerhouse begins …
“My father addressed the Mayor that morning and made a phone call to Amer Jerlagic, who replied to him with one sentence ” Everything is by law “. As the eldest child, I decide to actively participate in this fight and protect my father from this kind of people who have destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of people for the sake of their interests. ”
The Hodzic family first contacted the women of Krušice, to consult what and how to proceed. In the case is included lawyer Brune Božić, who is involved in the legal fights against the destruction of many rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“He started lawsuits against the licenses and decisions of the ministries mentioned at the Cantonal Court of Travnik, and each one of them was rejected. In the meantime, the works have started. Digging, mining … and everything that follows that from a perfectly laid out natural system, to make a private benefit “, emphasizes Ensara.
The case was also handed over to the Ombudsman for Human Rights, and besides the support of Lejla Salkić, the family is supported by the Center for Environment and several neighbors aware of this case.
“When the works started, we managed to maintain peace next to our house, until the time when the machines came to the rock that stretches across the entire area and below the foundations of our house. After our house was damaged during mining of rocks, we went to the inspection. Due to the enormous vibrations and noise that occurred during the rock destruction, the works were stopped. We expected all of this, and because of this, my father refused to sign the agreement for making the powerhouse in that place from the beginning. Our case is handed over to the Supreme Court, and we do not intend to give up this fight. The works were stopped, because the contractors are our neighbors, and the people who decided to respect my father with the words ‘the neighbor is more important than the investor’. And the investor, along with the Mayor and the mentioned institutions, obviously do not respect anything other than the paper called the money that governs their lives, “Ensara points out.
“I am continuing this fight, because this is my country too!”
“Throughout this story, my sisters, my brother and I will remember our father’s words repeated many times in the most difficult moments:” Children go from here, go far, go and do not come back, this is chaos! ”
I write this story, I continue this fight, because this is my country, because there are laws that work for us too, that work for nature and these laws always win.
Five years of life under stress, in order to defend the basic human right to live!
And how important are human lives for them, the offers will tell you, offers we received all these years: a workplace for my father; scholarships, upgradeing the house, i.e. changing carpentry, etc., etc. Absurd to absurd! Because of these absurdities and systems of distorted values, thousands of people have left this beautiful country, and after all, me and my sisters and brother, we will listen to our father, we will go there somewhere where the law is written to protect all, not just people who wrote the law. And here …? River will stop. Life will stop here.
This is our story, this is our fight, I write it, because I know how many rivers in this country is planned to be destroyed in the Balkans.
I am writing, because it does not have to be destroyed, it can be stopped! Do not let life to stop in your place! Stand up and say: “I do not give my river!” Do not give it, stop it, you matter, your voice is valid, and we all owe it to nature.
Because, somewhere there people are not afraid and do not consider themselves to be pawns, but as a pillar and the basis of a healthy society. Somewhere over there, and it can be here!
I’ve made my here made somewhere there else, and my parents will, hopefully, after all have a quiet life and a peaceful morning, even if I had to go to international courts with this story and case. Good always wins. And the local community replaced the river that brought life into this valley for a piece of asphalt. It sounds terrible, and how it will be, i leave to those who will open their eyes obviously only then … ».