It’s a precedent for the protection of rivers and the environment in B&H: House of Representatives of B&H Federation voted for a moratorium on building small hydropower plants, as well as the revision of all existing permits.
The lead role in this story does not go to the leaders. The prohibition would have never happened if throughout the country – from Una to Buna, Doljanka, Neretvica, from Vrbas to Željeznica and Kruščica, from Sana to Bjelava, Rzav, and Kaljina, the guardians of rivers did not protect them with their own bodies, while faced with thugs, police, threats, and inclement weather. They, and only they, are the true saviors of our rivers.
Federal government has been given three month's time to produce a proposal of necessary changes that would implement the prohibition in practice.
The experience from 2017 teaches us to approach this move of a highest legislative body in B&H Federation with great caution. At a thematic session held about the air pollution, the FB&H Parliament charged the Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism with undertaking a series of concrete actions to reduce it. To this day, the Ministry did not complete a single one of those, while the air in the cities across Federation gets worse by the year.
The reason for caution also comes from the fact that we are in an election year. Political parties, opposition and leadership, are worried about their seats in those municipalities where the locals protested over destruction of rivers, aware that their representatives and other officials played a role in ruining their most precious natural wealth. In case all does turn out to be just a pre-election maneuver, our struggle continues – on all fronts. We will continue to guard our rivers, and at the same time follow every move of the relevant ministries, government and the parliament. September 23 is the end date.
The struggle for our rivers needs to continue in the Republic of Srpska as well, where there are only slim indications that municipality governments may have begun to distance themselves from the energy projects.
The European Commission, as well as the European Union also play a role. We will ask that they too take responsibility for, through their goals of energy transition and marginalizing environment protection while negotiating with B&H, purposefully or not, contributed to the creation of a framework for destruction of rivers that local political and business clans embraced.
As a reminder, some of the small hydropower plant projects belong to companies from the EU.
We thank the media for their strong coverage of this fight, and believe we will be able to count on your solidarity and contribution in our struggle for the shared interest.