Following more than two months of protests by local residents, the construction of a mini hydroelectric power plant in Strpce was suspended, while the bulldozer that was placed at the „Obe Reke“ site was removed. Whether construction will continue or not is a question that remains unresolved. Strpce residents claim that the construction of this plant would jeopardize the drinking water used by the local population and the eco-system, and demanded for construction to be stopped. The final decision, however, is in the hands of the Kosovo Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning.
The decision to halt the construction and the removal of the bulldozer „was made by the mayor of Strpce, courtesy of the citizens’ protest, and in cooperation with the president of the Assembly,“ one of the organizers of the protest, Dobrivoje Stevanovic, confirmed for KoSSev this morning.
Stevanovic said that the bulldozer was removed and emphasized that the final decision is in the hands of the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, to whom a written submission was submitted. A submission was also sent to the inspectorate, as well as to the local self-government, and all legal procedures were observed – he underlined.
KoSSev contacted the deputy of Kosovo Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, Milena Zdravkovic regarding this matter. Zdravkovic, however, said that she is unable to „provide an answer today because of her personal obligations“ and asked KoSSev to call her tomorrow.
The construction of this plant was also suspended on January 23rd, due to „murky drinking water in the reservoir“ and, consequently, „endangerment of the water supply of local residents“, and after the Kosovo Communal Inspectorate ordered the suspension to the contractor „Matkos Group“ company.
Ten days later, however, the construction continued, as did the protests by the citizens who emphasized that they will not stand down until this issue is resolved.
This problem first occurred in 2013 when the permission for the use of the land at the “Obe Reke” location was given by MA Strpce, „without considering the basic and main points of the law – that a concession or license should not be given when it comes to the source of drinking water or any kind of river from which the population is supplied“, one of the organizers of the protest, Stojan Josimovic claimed. In 2016, however, the construction was suspended indefinitely.
The construction continued at the end of last year, when the protests of the citizens started, along with the signing of a petition, which was subsequently supported by the municipal leadership, as well as the Mayor of Strpce, Bratislav Nikolic, his associates, Minister Dalibor Jevtic and three deputies of Srpska Lista in the Kosovo Assembly.
„We have no right to give our descendants something that we inherited from our ancestors in a worse state than we found it, if it cannot be in a better state. Therefore, if we lose the river, people will lose their life meaning, we will become an empty shell of people,“ Dobrivoje Stevanovic underlined.
Shara Mountain was registered on the register of the Republic of Serbia, while the Kosovo institutions took over the premises of this national park in Brezovica in December 2015 and arrested the employees of the company. Shara was declared a National Park in 1984 and in December 2012, according to Kosovo sources, it was expanded under the new (Kosovo) law on the Shara National Park. The Brezovica ski resort is also part of the national park. This region is mostly inhabited by Serbs.
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