Residents of Foča acting within the citizen association ‘Bjelava’ have recently reached out to the local government officials with a request for a thematic session on the topic of the destruction of river Bjelava. Their complete letter of request follows below:
Citizen association ‘Bjelava’ has been founded with a goal of preserving the river Bjelava and other Foča rivers, and promoting the protection of flora and fauna within the Foča Municipality region in Republic of Srpska (RS), Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Applicant and other Foča residents have learned that the Ministry of Energy and Mining has posted an Open Call for two small hydroelectric power plant concessions on the Bjelava river in July of 2018. In October 2018, a concession contract was signed with Srbinjeputevi d.o.o.
Field assessments by Foča Municipality, dated June 20, 2016, and by utility company Izvor, dated June 7, 2016 preceded the Open Call.
An assessment by Foča Municipality, dated March 17, 2017, stated that the investor ‘showed readiness’ to fulfil the conditions of utility company Izvor Foča from June 7, 2016, and that therefore it is justified to continue with the necessary activities toward awarding concession for the small hydroelectric power plants Bjelava and Mala Bjelava.
Photo Bjelava Foča association members
The assessment done by Foča Municipality does not indicate that Foča residents took part in arriving at the above decision, even though the Nature Preservation Law requires that the local government informs the public on the condition of nature and natural world within its territory, while the Law of Local Governance and the Municipality Statute (Article 16 of the Statute) require full citizen participation in local governance issues.
As residents of Foča municipality who have not been notified of the concession decision, we propose to the Foča municipality and Foča Municipality Assembly to:
- Schedule a thematic session within twenty days on the topic ‘The issues regarding building two small hydroelectric power plants on Bjelava river’, so that the residents would be able to provide input
- Invite all interested residents to attend the thematic session
- Assign a designated municipality body to prepare and deliver to all interested parties full documentation in possession of the Foča Municipality that concerns the concession award of a small hydroelectric power plant on river Bjelava
- In accordance to Article 16 of the Foča Municipality Statute, to take into consideration the initiative-petition signed by more than 50% of the registered municipality voters who have expressed their opposition to the planned construction of the small hydroelectric power plant on Bjelava river as well as their profound dissatisfaction with this decision (we attach a notary signed copy of 1006 signatures, dated July 15, 2020) and create a legal act regarding the citizen initiative
- Inform the investor about the Assembly conclusions, with a proposition to terminate all construction work based on the permit for geological exploration until after the thematic session where final conclusions regarding construction of small hydroelectric power plant on Bjelava river are to be made.