Albania Building Small Hydropower Plants at Cijevna Without Analyzing Environmental Impact, Consulting Local Communities

By , 09 Oct 2018, 14:07 PM Lifestyle
Illustration Illustration WWF

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October 9, 2018 - The fact that Albania has not officially informed Montenegro about the plans for the construction of small hydropower plants (SHP) at Cijevna, a river that flows through both countries and whose exploitation of resources is subject to international agreements, is not a surprise, says Deni Porej, head of the Regional office of the World’s Fund for Nature (WWF Adria).

Albania, as he said, treated Montenegro the same as Montenegro, as well as other Balkan states, do to their citizens - with ignorance. The Albanian government has approved the construction of more SHPs at Cijevna, on its territory. As reported by the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism (MORT), they did not notify the Montenegrin colleagues. That the works at Cijevna are underway is also testified by the photos delivered to the newspaper in the middle of last week. These show that there is an already-built object at the river, and pipes laid in the basin. Porej points out that such projects, especially in countries like the Balkans, are not "green", that their construction is "shameless and violent to citizens and nature" and that only politicians and investors get the benefits. He adds that the SHP are built without any plans or analyzing the impact on the environment and people's lives and are being constructed secretly - without consulting local communities.

"And that happened to you, Albania did not notify Montenegro about the building of SHP. Why, when not even the Montenegrins inform the Montenegrins of what they are doing on their rivers?" he said.

According to the sources of "Vijesti” in Albania, the villagers of the Keljmendi region were also not informed about the SHP at Cijevna, where there is the construction of more SHPs planned - 14 are mentioned. Regarding the construction of the SHP on Cijevna, according to the ESPOO Convention, whose signatories are Albania and Montenegro, citizens of both states should be consulted.

"In most cases, the local community learns that something is happening only when machines come onto the field," says Porej.

Leka Dedivanovic, whose family is from Stjepovo, in Zatrijepce, where he has the most beautiful view of the canyon of Cijevna, says that the whole case could have been "an example of good cooperation and mutual interest of neighbors who share a miraculous natural beauty."

"Unfortunately, it is not... The neighbors from Albania have done theirs, not asking us anything. Our ignorant institutions are passing each other the hot potato. They are waiting for it to cool down and to forget everything," he says.

Director of WWF Adria reminds that the construction of the SHP is influencing the environment from more aspects and that investors who receive electricity from the SHP through state subsidies for a guaranteed price, no one controls.

"There is no oversight in the countries of the region, and how the inspection services and the authorities are doing their job is ridiculous," he said, adding that through the SHP projects, the relationship between the state and the community is best shown. 

Head of WWF Adria adds that people like him are not opponents of the development: "I know what the profession means, and what is impudence. And what is happening here is - sassiness. And it is merely an interplay of the interests of individuals, politicians who do not care about voters, investors who do not care about nature and people, and it is all displayed as something necessary for the country to progress. This is an aggression towards the citizens and nature. The boundaries are being crossed," he says.

It is not known whether Montenegro in the meantime officially received a response from the Albanian colleagues for the projects of SHPs at Cijevna.

Varvars: Unacceptable, without necessity and need

The revolt due to the plans in Albania is also expressed by the fans of "Budućnost", who during the basketball match against “Red Star” spread a banner reading "Let’s not give Cijevna away". 

"It is unacceptable for us that the human factor, consciously, without the necessity and the general benefits, influences the flow and life of Cijevna. From the unique ecosystem to the summer escape from the heat of most of Varvars, and as the tributary of Morača, which is in the title of our hymn 'Deep is Morača' - Cijevna is part of every citizen in Podgorica and Varvars," said Varvars to Vijesti.

Text by Damira Kalac, on October 9th 2018, read more at Vijesti

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