We expect the relevant ministers and the Prime Minister of Republika Srpska will not allow the signing of the annex to the concession agreement for the mini hydro power plant (MHPP) on the river Bjelava in Foča, because the investor “Srbinje putevi” is suspected of several crimes, said the representatives of the citizens’ association “Bjelava” from Foča and the Centre for the Environment today in Banja Luka at a press conference.
They presented information related to the illegal construction of MHPPs on the Bjelava River in Foča and reminded that the RS Concessions Commission gave its consent to the proposed annex to the contract without supervising the implementation of the concession contract, which is required by law. The Centre for the Environment has filed a lawsuit against this consent.
Prior to the session of the RS Government at which the annex proposal was discussed, the Centre for the Environment and citizens’ association “Bjelava” requested an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister of RS, Radovan Višković, Minister of Spatial Planning, Construction and Ecology Srebrenka Golić, Minister of Energy and Mining Petar Đokić, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water management Boris Pašalić, and the Inspectorate of Republika Srpska with the aim of considering the termination of the disputed concession and initiating proceedings against all responsible and official persons.
“Only the RS Inspectorate and Minister Pasalić responded to the request for a meeting, insisting that all those invited be present, while we did not receive a response from other institutions.” If the Government signs this annex to the Agreement, it will reward the arrogant investor who violated the law and deceived the public authority on fulfilling the conditions from the concession agreement. “Srbinjeputevi, through its own fault, did not meet the deadline for the legal implementation of the first phase of works, but it submitted a request to change the project, which now gave it an additional deadline,” said Viktor Bjelić, vice president of the Centre for the Environment.
We remind you that, at the beginning of March, the company Srbinjeputevi took advantage of the state of emergency and started illegal works in the Bjelava river basin, having only a concession agreement, without the necessary permits. Neither the local nor the republic administration reacted to the obvious law violation, usurpation of private property, deforestation and relocation of the riverbed. Under pressure from the public and river guards from the Coalition for the Protection of Rivers of BiH, who protested and appealed to the authorities on several occasions, the water inspector stopped the works only in July when the damage was done and all roads were built.
While constructing the roads, the investor largely went beyond the framework of geological research, which was subsequently approved by Minister Đokić, obviously with the aim of legalising the started works. Execution of works without supervision could endanger access to water for all citizens of Foča, since the water supply pipeline of Foča, from the source of Lučka Vrela, is within the scope of works for MHPP Bjelava. “Srbinjeputevi” received the permit for geological research on the basis of a forged public document on resolving property-legal relations, which misled the ministry.
Jovan Drakul, president of the citizens’ association “Bjelava” from Foča, pointed out that they addressed the mayor and the local inspection several times and that they were ignored.
“Inspectors denied any work in the riverbed, while images from the field contain proof of the destroyed riverbed, deforestation and usurpation of private property. To make matters worse, the mayor formed a commission after the finalised road construction and river devastation, in which he appoints both the investor and the acting inspectors with the task of determining the factual situation on the ground. This commission concluded that all works were carried out in accordance with the technical documentation, and the investor is given a recommendation to obtain a building permit. Isn’t that absurd? ”Drakul asked.
Miloš Vujičić, whose household is very specific for its protected old mill and is located in the Bjelava river basin, claims that the investor usurped their land without the knowledge of his neighbours, while he refused to allow it, even though he was offered money.
“I decided to continue the tradition of milling and I see the life of my family here, where I was born. Our mill is protected as a cultural and historical heritage, but without water it will not be able to work. The government should not protect the interests of this negligent private individual, but should protect the interests of its citizens. I expect the authorities to protect me, since it is obvious that the investor will not, “said Vujičić.
A short film about the fight of the locals for the river Bjelava and its destruction was shown, made with the support of the European Union and the French CCFD foundation.