Kruščica celebrates! The cantonal court cancelled permits for two planned hydropower plants

18. 12. 2018 - KRUŠČICA
Joy. People believe their fight will be over soon.
PHOTO: Markéta Šedivá / Arnika

The inhabitants of the Bosnian village of Kruscica have succeeded with their lawsuits against two planned hydropower plants. The cantonal court of Novi Travnik upheld their objections against construction and urban permits. The locals have been actively demonstrating against hydropower plants for almost 16 months, drawing the attention of European media. The controversial projects would bring significant damage to the surrounding natural environment and the source of drinking water.

It is a breakthrough decision for the 810 villagers of Kruščica. Represented by a lawyer, they initiated an administrative dispute against the renewal of urban approvals and construction permits for the small hydropower plants in Kruščica 1 and Kruščica 2, as they were not adequately informed and involved in the previous decision-making procedures.

“We are happy to see some shift towards improvement and truly grateful to all organizations and good people for their support. At the moment, we are the proudest community in Bosnia and Herzegovina," stated Amela Zukan, one of the 'brave women of Kruščica' (3).

Together, the people of the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction, Environmental Protection, Return, and Housing of Central Bosnia Canton, in repeated proceedings, did not take into consideration the citizens' opinions, and renewed these approvals. The court ruled a positive verdict on all four claims on Friday last week.

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Viktor Bjelic from the Center for the Environment claims that, "this decision of the Cantonal Court is the only possible outcome, since the Ministry has not renewed the disputed decisions in light of the proper and fully-established facts. This decision gives power to the inhabitants of Kruščica to insist on their demands and persists until the termination of the concession contracts for hydropower plants takes place,” says an environmentalist from Banja Luka.

"I was excited to receive the news. The locals are already very tired. To prevent the construction, they were blocking the bridge across the Kruščica River day and night. It has been extremely demanding for all of them,” says Zuzana Vachůnová from the Czech NGO, Arnika, who has followed the Kruščica case from the beginning.

Today, organizations and individuals from the Coalition for the Protection of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Rivers are celebrating the victory for the battle of Kruscica. They also welcome the recent resolutions of the European Parliament, which highlight the environmental risks of the construction of small hydropower plants and emphasize that they are in opposition to the European Union's environmental standards (4).