“Let the Vrbas flow” (2004 – 2006)
The fight against the destruction of the Vrbas River is on-going for more than a decade. At the initiative of the Centre for the Environment, in 2004 the Coalition for Vrbas was formed, which gathered 36 associations that fought against the construction of new hydroelectric power plants on this river.
The fight, involving a number of associations united in the Coalition for Vrbas, began when the government of Republic of Srpska signed a 165million euro concession agreement with “HES Vrbas” for the construction and use of two hydropower plants in the Vrbas River canyon, “HPP Krupa” and “HPP Banja Luka-Niska.”
WE DID IT!
In 2005, the Coalition collected over 17,000 signatures from citizens who said “no” to the hydroelectric power plants on the Vrbas, after which the Banja Luka City Assembly gave a negative opinion on the project at the time. The “Let the Vrbas flow” campaign is the first public campaign of that size led by the Centre for the Environment and the first big victory. With this victory, the Coalition saved the Vrbas, and gave a wind in the back to other initiatives that fought against the planned large hydropower plants on the Drina and Neretva. In the years that followed by engaging in fishing and adventure tourism, the members of the Coalition put Banja Luka and Vrbas on the world map of tourist destinations.
New plans for the construction of hydroelectric power plants on the Vrbas appeared again in 2017. The project of “HPP Krupa Niska” (14 MW) envisages the construction of a dam of 18-20 meters and the relocation of the main road from the bridge in Krmine to the hydroelectric power plant “Bočac 2” in the length of 10 kilometres from the left to the right bank of the Vrbas.
During the public debate held in the premises of the local community Krupa na Vrbasu, representatives of the Centre for the Environment pointed out that the project is “harmful to the city of Banja Luka, RS and BiH”, and that the construction of any dam in that part of Vrbas would lead to deteriorating quality of water and would endangered the supply of water to the citizens of Banja Luka.
In addition, it would endanger huchen species that is one of the most important and endangered fish species and endemic to the Danube basin.
Residents of Krupa na Vrbasu also commented on the issue and expressed their dissatisfaction with the planned construction of the hydroelectric power plant. At the public debate, they stated that they have no benefit from the hydroelectric power plants “Bočac 1” and “Bočac 2”, so they will not benefit from this hydroelectric power plant either, instead it would only harm them. They categorically pointed out that they would not give their land for the needs of building a hydroelectric power plant.
WE DID IT!
In June 2018, the Council of the local community of Krupa na Vrbasu voted on the issue of the planned hydroelectric power plant “Krupa Niska” on the river Vrbas, and with six out of seven votes, they officially voted against this project.
Finally, in November of the same year, the mayor of Banja Luka, Igor Radojicic, at a meeting with the representatives of the Coalition for Vrbas, announced that the City of Banja Luka does not accept the initiative of the relevant ministry for the construction of the Krupa Niska hydroelectric power plant.
Life should be returned to Vrbas, is the main opinion of the Coalition for Vrbas, whose members will continue with activities that will promote the beauties of Vrbas, life on Vrbas and its potential for sports and sustainable tourism activities that are an excellent alternative to hydroelectric power plants and may be more important for Banja Luka and it’s surrounding environment.
Nataša Crnković, President of the Centre for the Environment
“We have been in the Coalition for Vrbas from the very beginning and we are of the opinion that hydroelectric power plants should not be built on this river, and not only because of kayaking as a sport. All the citizens of Banja Luka and those who live by the rivers are against it.”
Nikola Stanković, director of the Kayak-canoe club Vrbas