Brestovik returnees: Our water supply has been cut, and we are in the corona pandemic

Translation provided by KoSSev

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a large part of the returnee village of Brestovik, located near Pec/Peja, has been without water for more than a month, the locals – mostly Serb returnees claim. They have no water to maintain proper hygiene, while several heads of cattle have died. The water supply infrastructure, built with the funds of the international community, became the private property of local Albanians who bought Serbian estates in this village and opened family companies, Radio Gorazdevac reports.

Previously, at a village meeting of Serbs and Albanians from Brestovik, an agreement was made to turn on the water supply for all households two times a day. The owner of the company, an ethnic Albanian, who owns the property where the water supply basin is located, respects that decision. According to Miodrag Dasic, a representative of this village, however, another neighbor, a fellow Albanian, appropriated all the water for himself.

„He cut off the main supply, installed a valve, and closed the water supply. We are waiting for the water, but there is no water. The commission checked and determined that he closed the water supply,“ Miodrag Dasic told Radio Gorazdevac.

The owner of the company, for whom the locals claim had cut off their water supply, Argjent Xhara was not present on his property, Radio Gorazdevac writes.

On the other hand, the owner of the farm on whose property the water supply basin is now located, Bashkim Draga confirmed the allegations of the representatives of the village of Brestovik. Draga said that he turns on the water supply twice a day – as per the agreement. He also pointed out that the residents in this village have common problems because they cannot agree not to water their gardens. There is not enough water for that, he said.

„Since there is not enough water in the upper spring, we decided to turn on the water supply from 7 am-9 am and 7 pm-9 pm. But it was in vain, as soon as we let the water out of the basin, it runs out in twenty minutes. We all have water, but when the gardens are watered – there isn’t any. We would have water two hours every day if the gardens are not watered because the basin cannot collect more at this moment,“ Bashkim Draga said in a statement for Radio Gorazdevac.

Hazir Ljajic, a resident of the upper part of the returnee village of Brestovik – which is now a mixed settlement – confirmed that he regularly waters his garden, pointing out that other residents do the same.

„I don’t turn off the water either day or night, everything is green here. If you want, go take a look, everything is green, it hasn’t dried out. Is that normal or not? I water it every day. I don’t have a goat or a cow, I water the garden. My onions are the best in the village, the whole village can come and eat them. I use water, Ljubisa here uses it, these people here use it. Both cows and cattle and corn use the water,“ Ljajic said.

Although there is enough water for irrigation in the upper part of the village, in the lower part, mostly inhabited by Serb returnees, there is no water.

This is particularly dangerous for older returnees during the coronavirus pandemic, returnee Stevan Dzavric said.

„We are afraid of the corona. We haven’t been so far, but we are now. If only we had water to wash hands, but there is nothing,“ Dzavric emphasized.

Drilling of deepwater wells was funded by the Norwegian Embassy, ​​while the basin, which serves as a reservoir, was funded by Mercy Corps. Electrical installations of this pool are registered to the representative of the village, Miodrag Dasic.

„Worst of all, the electricity meter is in my name, and I received an electricity bill in the amount of ten thousand euros, after which the court and the executors came to seize my house,“ complained Dasic.

He said that turning off the water supply and closing the access to the village stream is a big problem for the residents who have cattle.

„He closed the access to the river in the length of five hundred meters, so we cannot approach the river. And he also closed the canal we used for irrigation. I have cows and pigs and I have nothing to give them to drink. One cow has already gotten sick and one bull is sick, and now I have to slaughter them or toss them out. I recently had to throw away a cow that got sick from infection and died, I don’t know what I am going to do,“ Dasic told Radio Gorazdevac.

The Mayor of Pec/Peja, Gazmend Muhaxheri, the press service of the Minister for Returns and Communities, headed by Dalibor Jevtic, did not respond to messages of Radio Gorazdevac journalists prior to this news been published.

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