Representatives of UNESCO, at the summit in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, should decide whether the construction of the highway has devastated the basin of the river Tara. The construction of this road is the largest infrastructure project in the history of Montenegro. So far it is known that similar danger does not threaten the National Park Durmitor and the area of Kotor, which, by the decision of UNESCO (specialized organization of the United Nations for Education, Science and Culture), remain on the list of World Cultural Heritage.
"Tara is devastated"
Will the river Tara continue to adorn the informal epithet "tears of Europe" in the future? This is often described because of its crystal-clear water and the uniqueness of the canyon, the deepest in the world after the one in Colorado (USA). "The Tara is definitely devastated, and we visit it almost every day and observe the terrain." The basin is reduced in Matesevo for 50 meters. The huge embankments were flooded into the river," read the latest "report" on the state of the river Tara, in the locality where construction of the first phase of the highway Bar-Boljare is underway, as Aleksandar Perovic says from the ecological movement Ozon.
Let's recall, UNESCO experts who visited Tara, where works on the highway took place last November, submitted a report stating that this area is "covered with landfill and dumped materials," and that it is clear that visible impacts will remain on the environment and after the completion of the construction of the highway.
These statements as previously noted by the organization “Network for the Promotion of the Non-Governmental Sector (MANS)” to what is happening in the basin of Tara River, saw the confirmation that it was devastated. They also rely on the reports of the European Commission and the European Parliament, which demanded urgent measures to restore the basin.
Pavle Radulovic, the Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism in the Government of Montenegro, is not pessimistic about the final UNESCO assessment and its decision whether the basin of Tara remains in the area protected by the program "Man and Biosphere".
In a statement to the public, twenty days after the first UNESCO report on the situation in the basin of the river Tara, he stated:
"In November, I claimed and now I claim that the basin of Tara has not been moved, that Tara is not completely endangered and that it will not be removed from the list of MAB (man and biosphere). Nobody ever said that the construction of the highway does not affect Tara. We noted that the impact is limited - local, that the vast majority of these impacts are temporary, and that some of the effects that remain do not have any effect on the protected parts."
The videos show differently
That the observations from the Minister are widely different with what MANS claimed based on their drone records at the site where Chinese builders are raising a bridge over the future highway, it was shown at the spot by his debates with reporters on whether the basin of Tara was disposed on a disputed site. Noted before the UNESCO mission arrived in November last year:
"And do you see that the basin is displaced?" asked a journalist, who found that it was clearly visible where there was the basin in one part, and where it is now, to which Minister Radulovic reacted again:
"Has the basin been displaced or the water was shifted to the construction of the bridge’s foundation?"
"If the basin is first on one, then a second place, it means it has been moved," the journalist concluded.
"No," the minister replied, adding, "I do not see anything happening here, which is not normal for a construction site of this type."
Durmitor and Kotor remain on the world list
However, for now, good news for Montenegro has arrived from Baku. While UNESCO's final decision on Tara awaits, this international organization, a few days ago at the same meeting in Baku, decided that Durmitor National Park and Kotor's Natural and Cultural-Historical Heritage will remain on the World Cultural Heritage List.
This was welcomed with relief, especially for those part of the expert public who warned of examples of the devastation of natural and cultural-historical heritage at these two sites. Among them is the art historian Aleksandar Cilikov, who for decades has been dedicated to the protection of the cultural and historical treasures of Montenegro.
Kotor (Photo: Shutterstock)
"For me, it's really great news! Because, indeed, Kotor was on the verge of being discharged from the World Cultural Heritage, there have been very serious devastations by new construction I consider such an epilogue worthy of both state and non-governmental organizations and even some prominent individuals who have raised their voices to normalize this situation and upgrade them to these world standards. Of course, I have to mention here some opposition parties, who were very much engaged in preserving this space," said Cilikov.
A warning from Cehotina
And how did we get in the situation under the UNESCO globe of our protected areas, and in a country that has already declared itself as the first ecological country in the world 28 years ago?
Ecologist Aleksandar Perovic has his explanation.
"The ecological state was one great idea, which was also the precursor to today's goals of sustainable development of the United Nations," reminds ecologist Aleksandar Petrovic.
"Therefore, we had something that no one had in the world, but our decision makers do not understand the developmental direction of the ecological state, they do not understand how well the space should be managed well and how many benefits it brings. Definitely, the reason for this is that people who are in the ruling parties, not only do not understand but also have no basic knowledge to manage properly," Petrovic said.
Milky Cehotina (Photo: SRK Lipljen)
Ecocide, urbicide, culturocid, words that are used, more often than ever, by the critical public, the civil sector, and the political opposition, and describe examples of the devastation of natural resources and cultural and historical heritage of Montenegro. This is confirmed by the last plague of fish in the river Cehotina due to the release of toxic substances from the thermal power plant in Pljevlja, in the north of Montenegro.
RSE interlocutors, however, draw attention to, as they state, the awakened ecological awareness of Montenegrin citizens.
"What I cannot figure out, is that some people who decide, do not realize that the money factory is the pure nature itself and the natural ambience, not this building with apartments of concrete and metal. However, I have the impression that among the people who decide on the fate of Montenegro's development, and especially tourism, there is no such awareness," Cilikov said.
Aleksandar Perovic notes the paradox in which people working for investors "should play some professional and independent public."
“They cannot do that. Once they take the money they need to justify it. Unfortunately, we are the only one in the civil sector who is the only independent public and we are trying to get knowledge and information from people who know what they are talking about and channel it through the media. But I repeat, I hope, the small system can react quickly and that things will change, and I hope that a new time will come for people who really know to come to the right places," Petrovic concludes.
Text by Radio Slobodna Evropa, on July 10th, 2019, read more at Vijesti