Several hundred citizens marched through the town of Visegrad on Saturday to protest a decision by the government of Bosnia’s Serb-majority region to build a hydropower plant on the Rzav river.
Participants of the march, organised by the ‘Defend the rivers of Visegrad’ informal group of citizens, began collecting signatures for a petition that would have the goal of protecting Rzav and other local rivers, the Anadolu Agency reported.
“We plan to organise lectures and a public debate on the matter since those investors and all others involved in it have not organised this. We will do that and we will invite them too, as well as experts in this field from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and our people will then know what is really being done here,” said Dejan Furtula, a representative of the citizens’ group.
The group received support from similar organisations in other Bosnian towns, such as ‘Eko Akcija’ from Sarajevo, whose representative Anes Podic said that the trend of constructing hydropower plants is present across the country as 400 small plants are planned to be built at more than 250 locations.
“Bosnia and Herzegovina doesn’t need this electricity. Bosnia now already exports every third Kilowatt it produces and in regard to sustainable sources of energy, more than 40 percent of it comes from hydropower plants. If we were a member of the EU, we would rank among the top countries regarding this matter,” Podic said.
“Bosnia and Herzegovina can not save the world, but Bosnia needs to protect its natural goods and the future of these people. Small hydropower plants destroy rivers, there is no doubt about that, and local communities have no use of them. Only private investors benefit from them,” he explained.
The Government of the semi-autonomous Republika Srpska entity has recently adopted a decision to launch a concession procedure for the for the construction of small hydropower plants Crni and Bijeli Rzav. The estimated value of the investment is 3.12 million Bosnian Marks.
Some representatives of the ruling party in the entity, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), have also joined the Saturday march, as well as the mayor of the municipality, Mladen Djurevic.