The House of Representatives of the Parliament of Federation of BiH adopted the Declaration on the Protection of Rivers and voted on a Conclusion on the complete ban on the construction of small hydropower plants (SHPPs) on the entire territory of the Federation of BiH. This Conclusion gives the FBiH Government a period of three months to analyze and propose changes in the legislation that will enable the implementation of this ban in practice.
This is a great success for all activists from the Coalition for the Protection of Rivers in BiH. In recent years, Coalition activists have defended the rivers, streams and creeks on which they grew up with their bodies and have been pointing out the harmfulness of small hydro power plants. For years, the Coalition members together with citizens of affected areas have been fighting against SHPPs with all means available: legal tools, blockades and public protests.
The Conclusion adopted yesterday is based on the recommendations of the Declaration on the Protection of Rivers of the Western Balkans, which was prepared by environmental associations as a reaction to huge damage to local communities and the environment caused by SHPPs. It was adopted in November 2019 at a conference organized by Arnika (Czech Republic), the Center for the Environment (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and WWF Adria thanks to the financial support of the European Union, the Transition Promotion Program of the Czech Republic, the Global Greengrants Fund and the Heinrich-Böll Stiftung Foundation.
Previously, on May 12 this year, the recommendations and conclusions stated in the Declaration were adopted by the FBiH Government based on information from the Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism, which relates to the problems of construction of SHPPs in FBiH.
“This example should be followed by deputies of the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska. We are witnessing an increasing number of citizens who oppose the construction of SHPPs on rivers such as Bjelava, Bioštica, Prača, Rzav, Neretva and many others. The deputies are the representatives of these citizens and it is time to listen to the voice of the people who clearly say “Freedom to the rivers”, the Center for the Environment reports.
Nowadays more than 400 SHPPs are planned in BiH, of which about a hundred have been built, as a consequence leaving the riverbeds almost completely dry for most of the year. The public is not adequately involved into decision-making on the SHPPs construction, citizens are deprived of information and the right to democratically express their opinion on these projects.
The built SHPPs have caused great damage to nature and local communities, and the responsibility for that should be borne by those who gave their approval and signed permits for construction of these projects that are harmful to nature and society.