Centre for Civic Education (CCE) calls on the parties of the ruling majority and the Government of Montenegro to finally fulfil the promises given to the residents of Kraljske Bare and to terminate the harmful and void concession agreements with the companies “Dekar” and “Dekar Energy”, that plan to build mini-hydro power plants “Crnja”, “Crni potok” and “Ljubastica”, which is why the locals of this area have been protesting for more than 15 months.
Before the formation of the Government, representatives of the ruling majority visited this area and promised that this problem would be solved as soon as the Government is formed, which has not happened to date. The locals and their problems have been forgotten, or there has been another interest of some new decision-makers who guided them to maintain a status quo from which benefits only the privileged investor.
Today, for the 41st week in a row, but already in poor health, the locals will protest on the banks of cold rivers against the illegal construction of these mini-hydropower plants. They are persistent in preserving rivers and a healthy environment, which will be further disrupted by the inevitable construction of the highway through Kraljske Bare. These locals are fighting for the right cause and deserve wider support. On the other hand, the investor seems to have calculated the route of the highway when, after a decade of obtaining building permits starts with construction. His calculated intention to compensate the state in this village is clear, but it is not clear why the new authorities do not terminate such null and void contracts and why he, and not the locals, has the support of the new authorities.
The CCE reminds that the current Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dritan Abazović, during his visit to Kraljske Bare, on 20 September 2020, among others, stated: “This is one big disaster, and this is a shame regardless it in line with the law or against the law. The future government should terminate all concessions for small hydropower plants and permanently ban the construction of small hydropower plants. If that doesn’t happen, there will be no government.” Unfortunately, neither he, although the party he leads – URA – belongs to the Greens, nor the Government, in which he has one of the most responsible functions, did anything to change the situation in Kraljske Bare.
CCE also reminds that the previous Government, more than a decade ago, did not consult the local population, nor did it consider the development plans of Montenegro when it planned the construction of small hydropower plants through this village, in addition to the highway which is an important project for the state. The previous Government supported the interests of the arrogant investor, not the locals, as the CCE has pointed out many times, but the same investor is now linked with the new authorities, which also put his interest above the interests of the locals and the public.
The past period has brought enormous damage to the locals due to the unwillingness of the Government to terminate the illegal and controversial activities of the concessionaire. The Government is aware of the damage and potential crimes that this concessionaire has produced by its actions in the field, both to the local population and the state. It is also known to the public that Basic Prosecution in Kolašin got several criminal charges against the concessionaire. Questions also arise – who is delaying these actions and why attempts to conduct certain actions to protect concessionaire?
The CCE underlines that this is an unequal struggle where locals go with heart and desire to protect their environment, which is important for the well-being of the region and the state, while against them is a powerful concessionaire, focused on private millions worth interest, and with the protection of both former and current authorities. Furthermore, these locals have no more life in that area if such a project of the concessionaire is implemented, as it will jeopardize their existence, to which the authorities unanimously squint.
Snežana Kaluđerović, Senior Legal Advisor