It is in the public interest to review all concessions for small hydro-power plants, make a cross-section of the current situation and all environmental and economic parameters, and inform the public about the current state in order to prevent consequences and try to correct that which can be corrected.
Small hydro-power projects cause great social problems, which result in conflicts, intrigues, blackmail, divisions, space for corruption and criminal activities, petty political manipulations, humiliation of our cultural heritage and incredible economic and environmental damage for both present and future generations.
Today, various games are being played when it comes to small hydroelectric power plant projects, and they are games aimed at personal profiteering, as well as creating a barrier in the development of the ecological state, the family as the basic unit of society, and an attempt to discredit those who want to protect the interests of the public and of future generations
All divisions in the Balkans have always brought profit to certain privileged interest groups, which seem to be protected from the system, and to them everything is allowed, just like for some, everything is for sale.
There are 31 active contracts for SHPPs in Montenegro, which means that this number of power plants is still in the operation phase. From 2010 to 2021, a total of 14 concession agreements were terminated.
It is quite clear that small hydro-power projects that have a minor, almost invisible impact on energy stability and independence, and potentially major consequences for river and surrounding ecosystems, especially in ‘wild’ rivers with drinking water as well as sustainable development of rural areas, can risk instability in local communities and continue to widen the gap between the super-wealthy and those who struggle for survival.
Rivers are of priceless value to the citizens of Montenegro and that is why it is necessary, first of all, to assess their ecosystem value and make a decision on their evaluation accordingly, with active participation of the public; this means much more than using hydro potential for electricity generation.
It is unacceptable that in the 21st century, when ICT tools are used to a significant extent for environmental monitoring, we do not have a situation where competent institutions monitor confirmed real data on water quality or flow in real time, which would spare the public of potential manipulation about the biological minimum in watercourses, which are given to concessionaires to use for decades.
It is incomprehensible that the investors themselves, having in mind all the controversies that accompany small hydro-power plant projects, as well as processors conducting environmental impact assessment studies and competent institutions that give them the necessary approvals, have not recognised all the risks of non-transparent operations and tried to ensure that they make their actions visible to the public in every area concerning environmental impact.
Therefore, we believe that it is in the public interest to review all concessions for small hydro-power plants, make a cross-section of the current situation and all environmental and economic parameters, and inform the public about the current state in order to prevent consequences and try to correct that which can be corrected.
In the end, with the pleasure of having met sincere and incorruptible comrades to our rivers, who are in every civic initiative we supported, reasonable investors who recognised the unfavourable investment environment due to the wrong policies of decision makers – we tell everyone who is looking for a way to put personal profit above the public interest, who try to profit by discrediting civil society organisations in party circles, or are victims of blackmail and pressure, that rivers in Montenegro are worth fighting for, and they will always have sincere protectors in environmental organisations because we recognition all their beauty and potential, as well as the power of their ‘wilderness’
Aleksandar Perovic is one of the founders and director of the Environmental Movement Ozone. It is dedicated to involving the public in environmental decision-making processes.