Rivers are like blood vessels flowing through the human body. Imagine the problems the human body could face if one of the blood vessels was blocked – the same happens to a river when a hydro power plants is built on it. Imagine if the blood running through our veins was as polluted as our rivers. Imagine we erode our veins as we mercilessly as we have eroded our river beds.
Just as blood carries oxygen throughout our bodies, rivers are our countries’ carriers of oxygen. Without rivers there is no life. Taking water from our rivers for hydro power plants is akin to taking oxygen away from our children, as drying out rivers not only affects the riverbeds but it directly affects the surrounding flora and fauna as well. Even creatures miles away from the river are affected when rivers dry up.
Thus, inhabitants in Brezovicë that are opposing the construction of hydro power plants in their river, inhabitants of Biti that are opposing water being taken away from the river which supports their livelihood, activists in Deçan who witnessed legal violations with the hydro power plant in their river, citizens of Peja that massively protested against the construction of hydro power plants in Lumbardh of Peja, activists of Bunarfest that are opposing the construction of hydro power plants in Lumbardh of Prizren, Gjethi association from Kaçanik that has been fighting for Lepenc for years, are the heroes of our times. They are the ones protecting the future of our children by fighting for the water of our rivers.
There is a complete lack of transparency regarding the construction of hydro power plants. Local inhabitants realise that a hydro power plant is being built when they see bulldozers excavating the river, the reason why almost every hydro power plant construction has caused social discontent. In the case of Biti, public hearing was held in Kaçanik, tens of kilometres away from the place where the hydro power plant would be built.
According to the contracts between hydro power plant contractors and the relevant authorities, they can use 70% of the water for power generation. Taking into consideration that our rivers are polluted by waste water, estimating that 70% of water will be taken away means our rivers will turn into sewerage and nothing more, because the level of waste water will not be reduced while the water level in the river basins would be decreasing.
Citizens of Kosovo have shown that they know how to set aside national divisions to protect rivers. What needs to be done is increase the public pressure on local and national politicians, so that Kosovo follows the example of Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina in completely stopping the construction of small hydro power plants. If we compare the damage these plants cause to the environment with how much energy they generate, there is no economic reasoning behind allowing their construction.
I invite you all to sign the WWF Adria petition to stop small hydro power plants, at the link below:
Ardian Nrecaj, environmental protection activist