Urgently terminate concession agreement with “Dekar” and “Dekar Energy”

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) calls on the Government to urgently review and terminate the Concession Agreement with the companies “Dekar” and “Dekar Energy” and thus prevent the investor from putting the local and “wild” rivers Ljubaštica, Crnja and Čestogaz into the pipeline to build three small hydropower plants in Kraljske Bare, in the municipality of Kolašin. The Government should have reviewed both building permits and accompanying technical documentation for construction with environmental impact studies and feasibility studies of such facilities, as construction began 12 years after the original concession agreement was concluded. This would prevent harmful consequences and protect the environment and basic human rights for the residents of Kraljske Bare, who have been bravely and persistently fighting for the public interest since mid-July.

At the end of July, as a sign of support to the citizens, the CCE submitted several requests to the competent institutions in the direction of suspending the exploitation of these waters through the planned construction of small hydropower plants. Based on one of those requests, we got the Minutes of water inspector Miloš Vujačić no. 0304-737/20-3-82 from 30/07/2020 and 03/08/2020, to which we are on Thursday, 13/08/2020, filed an objection due to the violation of the Law on Inspection Supervision, the undetermined factual situation on the spot and biased actions of this inspector.

Namely, the inspector was obliged to consider the CCE’s initiative to start the inspection procedure and to consequently inform the CCE which he did not do. The inspection was performed at the water intake of the river Čestogaz, wherefrom 26/07/2020 there are no employees of “Dekar Energy” due to the dissatisfaction of the locals. However, by some “miracle”, the executive director of “Dekar Energy” found himself on the spot on 30/07/2020, when this inspector performed the control. The very fact that the inspector did not inform the CCE, as the applicant about the planned supervision, nor the president of local community Kraljske Bare, so that the locals could attend and point out the violations of the requested supervision, and that he invited the investor as a subject of on-site supervision reduced the efficiency of this control which represent a violation of the Law on Inspection Supervision. Moreover, this indicates that the inspector has a special relationship with the subject he should be controlling, as he puts him in a privileged position, and that should also be in the professional interest of his superiors.

Besides, the inspection was performed only at the water intake site, and if the inspector visited the entire construction site, he would indisputably note that the installed pipes fi 812 in the excavated canal in the length of about 100m, in which they were welded and several buried, while further downstream several a hundred meters along the riverbed of such a pipe placed next to the road to the mouth of the river Ljubaštica. Why didn’t the inspector visit the entire route of the works, do a photo study of the installed pipes and supervise the works on the entire course of the Čestogaz riverbed, as all that is visible downstream from the water intake? The inspector noted the beginning of the work, but it is unclear how the assessment of the current situation on the spot can state future work and still unperformed works.

If the inspection was carried out on 30/07/2020, how is it possible that the water inspector, together with the investor, did not see the locals who were in the dozens because of their meeting that was held then? How is it possible that none of the locals who came at the time of the alleged supervision found the persons who are the signatories of the disputed minutes? This leads to indications of falsification of the minutes, for which the determination of sanctions should follow.

The inspector was obliged to take statements from the locals who do not leave the place of supervision, which he also did not do. And that raises the question of determining the responsibility of this inspector.

The CCE assesses that such actions of inspectors and biased reporting of the situation on the ground protect only the interests of investors, and not for the first time.

The concession given for these three rivers, after 12 years, was extended on 27 December 2019 based on even then suspicious minutes by the Directorate for Inspection Affairs, whose supervision was requested by the Ministry of Economy in 2017 to determine whether the concessionaire fulfilled its contractual obligations during the previously set reasonable deadline. The minutes, which were submitted to the Ministry of Economy on 27 September 2017, stated that the investor is performing works following the approved revised projects within the third phase. As a reminder, the third phase includes the construction of small hydropower plants and obtaining water and use permit, as well as a license for electricity production. And it is indisputable that the work started only in the middle of July 2020, so it is unclear how the inspector could have stated the construction three years earlier. This is contrary to the information from the minutes that the CCE received.

Finally, the water inspector did not act in accordance with his powers prescribed by the Law on Inspection Supervision and we justifiably suspect that he did not officially go out on the field on 30/07/2020, but that he made a report on the on-site supervision in the local office by inspecting the documentation on 03/08/2020. Proof of that are the testimonies of dozens of locals who have been tirelessly on duty at the construction site day and night since mid-July and nobody can enter the site without being seen by them, and the inspector is certainly not a ghost. The CCE also expects a clear position of the Directorate for Inspection Affairs concerning the actions of this inspector.

Snežana Kaluđerović, Senior Legal Adviser