Government should fulfil its pre-election promises

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) today sent a new urgent request to the recently formed bodies, the Ministry of Capital Investments and the Ministry of Ecology, Spatial Planning and Urbanism, reiterating the appeals to the competent ministers, Mladen Bojanic and Ratko Mitrovic, to urgently reconsider and terminate harmful Concession Agreement for construction of small hydropower plants “Crnja”, “Ljubastica” and “Crni potok” in Kraljske Bare, in the Municipality of Kolasin.

Since the end of July last year, the CCE has submitted many requests, proposals and urgencies to the legal predecessors of these bodies, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism. Unfortunately, the former Minister of Economy, Dragica Sekulic, ignored that, although during one pre-election field visit, she gave hope to the locals that the competent services would react. The former Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism responded  to one in a series of requests, after which the CCE, on behalf of local community Kraljske Bare, initiated a proposal for the annulment of building permits for the construction of these three small hydropower plants. Also, the CCE initiated an administrative dispute against the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, which is currently in procedure.

CCE assesses that the new Government had enough time to terminate these Concession Agreements that produce harmful consequences for society as a whole, and especially for the population of the local community of Kraljska Bara, which has been standing guard day and night for half a year so that the arrogant investor would not be able to put the water from these three rivers into pipes of much larger diameters than those specified in the already disputable permits.

CCE reminds that the representatives of the new parliamentary majority and the Government gave pre-election promises that they will stop further construction of these small hydropower plants (SHPP). Given that the Government, at a session held at the end of the year, adopted the Information on proposals for termination of the concession agreement which envisages the construction of small hydropower plants on the watercourses of the rivers Raštak, Ljeviška and Reževića River, it is to be expected that such a decision will be finally and urgently made for these three rivers as well. Namely, the concessionaire “Dekar” and “Dekar energy” violated the protected natural resource and stole the water of the river Čestogaz in the Komovi Regional Nature Park by misleading the competent inspection. He presented this as the construction of SHPP “Crni potok”, and  that all these rivers are one river basin and the watercourse of the Crnja river, which is not true because these are rivers of different watercourses and river basins. In the case of this controversial deal, services and inspections have failed, from the process of granting concessions and building permits to monitoring their implementation. Therefore, we are eagerly awaiting the decision of the competent Prosecutor’s Office in Kolašin on the filed criminal charges for stealing Čestogaz River.

We note that even the reports of the Government and the former Ministry of Economy clearly show a constant suspicion that this investor cannot does continue working and building, but at the end of 2019, that Ministry, for unclear reasons, extended deadlines for completion of construction that had not even begun until July 2020, which indicates a series of dubious and possibly corrupt activities.

CCE indicates that the Government could have terminated the concession agreements for these three SHPPs after the first protest of the citizens by activating Articles 9, 18 and 23 of the Concession Agreement with “Dekar” and “Dekar energy”, and thus protect the public interest. Namely, one of the important reasons for the legal termination of the agreement by the Government is the residents’ opposition to this construction, because in the absence of the consent of the locals, the concession must be terminated.

CCE also publicly urges the Ministry of Capital Investments and the Ministry of Ecology, Spatial Planning and Urbanism to urgently consider and adopt the Information on proposals for termination of the Concession Agreement that envisages the construction of small hydropower plants on the watercourses of the rivers Crnja, Ljubastica and Crni potok in Kraljske Bare. Solving this problem should be Government’s priority because postponing such a decision calls into question both the health and human rights of locals who have been on the ground for six months, even in such weather conditions.

Snezana Kaludjerovic, Senior legal advisor