RWE dams on Drina from the perspective of Foca community

, SEE Energy News

The contract signed between officials of the RS Government and representatives of the German energy concern RWE to build four hydro power plants on Drina was publicly opposed by the Mayor of Foca, Zdravko Krsmanovic. He reveals to our magazine what’s behind this controversial agreement, why is Milorad Dodik frantically fighting for it to be implemented and who has recently threatened to terminate him.

“Stopping Milorad Dodik to sell a part of Drina to German RWE is a matter of historical importance for BH. Drina can not be regarded as a river in Republic Srpska, it is a river that flows through Canton Gorazde, in addition to being a cross-border river between BH and Serbia. An individual who is temporarily in power has no right to sell the natural resources of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina “, says Zdravko Krsmanovic, mayor of Foca to our magazine.

After having pointed out the harmfulness of the contract that was signed on September 26, in Banja Luka, a backdoor retaliation was launched against him in order to have him shot before the local elections. Krsmanovic argues that behind the campaign against him stand political leaders of the RS, since for them it is important that the contract, worth 460 million, to build four HE gets realized.

Nedeljko Pavlovic, director of Srbinje roads, filed a criminal charge against Krsmanovic,last week because five years ago, as the mayor of Foca, he did not announce a tender for paving and road reconstruction. When Krsmanovic proved that there was no need for the announcement of the tender because business did not exceed an amount of 93 thousand CM, Pavlovic gave an information to a newspaper close to Milorad Dodik that Krsmanovic sent him an SMS in which he threatens to kill him. Krsmanovic immediately responded that this is a lie; it’s all staged because at the time Pavlovic received a “threatening” text he appeared on a local radio station in Foca. Krsmanovic argues that despite the attacks on him and the serious threat of liquidation he shall not give up the fight to cancel the mentioned contract.

The RS government with its decision to offer the 60 percent stake in the project “Upper Drina” to German RWE, actually sold 60 percent of Drina river in the territory of Foca, said Krsmanovic. With the construction of four hydropower plants, Buk Bijela, Foca, Paunci and Sutjeska, more than 30 kilometers of the river Drina will be converted into several reservoirs, and several villages will be completely submerged, said mayor of Foca.

“In the area of Foca municipality there would not be one millimeter of the river Drina. From Ustikolina to Scepan Polje there would be only four lakes. When you sell a part of Drina, no one will be able to approach this part of the river. I just want to point out to the citizens that the sale of national resources is a greatest betrayal that can happen to the people and silence make it legalized. I get threats for speaking in public, but I will say even what my political opponent thinks I dare not tell him. I won votes from both Serbs and Bosnians here in Foca, and I owe it to them to warn them about the disaster that is coming” he says.

“This contract is not signed at the time of pre-election campaign, by chance. They tried to speed up the signing, so nobody would know what it is. They called it – the strategic partnership agreement, and when you unfold it you can see that it’s actually a sale of the part of the river to strangers for ever and ever. So it is not a concession for, let’s say, 50 or 100 years. The contract is about research, design, construction and use. So they sold Drina to a company that has the authority to research and design what they want, and then to build and use it for ever and ever. This is a crime against our own people. Drina here has a symbolic meaning. It has always been a crossroads of civilizations. Dodik, now comes and sells rivers, asking no one all the while. So my message is to every man who keeps to himself, every NGO, government institution, and every professional scientific worker, that this is a betrayal of our own people by unauthorized individuals who do it by using their temporary position. His goal is to sell all of the natural resources and humiliate his people. We must all fight against this. “

The contract with the German company RWE, was signed without spatial plan, feasibility study and study on environmental impact. Krsmanovic argues that there are mechanisms to cancel the contract with the German company.

“Nobody has the right to sell the resources of the state without asking the citizens. Constitution is above all of us. The agreement was signed by individuals, and we will file a complaint against them for the abuse of position. In addition, citizens will form an association for the protection of resources and opt for a referendum. Dodik constantly mentions a referendum, so now it can finally happen! The question would read – are for or against the sale of natural resources and should the majority stake in the Electric Power Industry in RS go to a foreign partner. We swore that we will not privatize the Electric Power Industry, and this is its privatization by the back door. If foreigners become majority owners of EPIRS we lose sovereignty in that case. It is a matter of constitutional category and must be solved by a referendum. The will of the citizens, expressed in a referendum can not be ignored by anyone.” says Krsmanovic.

Villagers from Paunci and Jošanice where they intend to build HPPs are worried about their future. They formed a committee against the construction of HPP Paunci. Ibrahim Bajraktarević returnee to the village Paunci, says that in this village many houses, most fertile land, and both Muslim and Orthodox cemetery would be flooded. Barjaktarevic insists that he and his neighbors will not allow foreigners to take over the land that is owned by them and have them expeled from their inheritance.

Krsmanovic has been employed in Electric Power Industry of BH for seven years, since 1985. to 1992. He worked on the construction of HPP Visegrad, led the study and design activities in hydro power plants on Drina, so he is familiar with the issues regarding the construction of HPP. All four HPP could have been made with half the money they received from the sale of Telecom Srpska, he said.

“Representatives of the RS Government claim that the value of these facilities is a billion CM. That’s a lie. Each hydro power plant can be made by our people. Especially Buk Bijela, where expropriation has been completed, and where concrete and gravel for construction already exist. EPIRS against all thefts and losses on the grid, made a profit of 30 million last year. When you multiply that amount by five since that is how much a construction of a hydro power plant lasts, then you see that these objects can be self-financed. At the same time the power plant equipment, from Siemens and Toshiba for example, is usually paid by the electricity produced. In two years, after getting all the required documents, we could start with the construction of the facility. We could employ five thousand people right away. There are no plants more profitable than hydro power plants. My suggestion to every man in BH if he has a thousand marks to invest in shares of Buk Bijela. It is better than to invest in oil in Kuwait. Water flows and makes money. Electricity is a product that the whole world is searching for. Instead, Dodik builds a government building, a glass cage, when he could have used that money to build HPP Buk Bijela and employ thousands of people.”

Our interviewee said he was not afraid of the campaign against him at the highest level in Banja Luka.

“First they prepared my arrest with the story of tenders that are not according to laws in BH. Imagine, they remembered that laws of Bosnia and Herzegovina should be obeyed”, concluded Mayor Krsmanovic.

“In RTRS top story were death threats I directed at some people in the town of Foca. They are making a gangster atmosphere with mayor as a gunman from the Wild West, who puts a badge and goes to people, threatens them and kills. What they prepared for me is nothing new, you just need to recognize it in time. Remember how the mayor of Doboj, Dragan Gavric got killed. A man entered his office in the municipal building and shot him in cold blood. The Court later acquitted him. Everyone needs to realize that an organized group of people is behind this, that’s what I call a mafia structure, which is associated with political parties and the state is a prisoner of these people. In addition to my arrest, they planned the arrest of Dragan Cavic and Mico Micic. Dodik is aware that if Cavic wins in Banja Luka, and Micic wins in Bijeljina, since I will certainly win in Foca, he loses power. In that case, he will have early elections in the RS in the spring of the following year. I am not afraid of the arrest because I’m not easily scared by nature.

Foca was a slaughter house since 1992 to 1995. After the war it was the city with most men accused of war crimes. Foca was a black hole in the Balkans. From such an environment I created an environment were hodza is invited to coffee by many, when he passes through the city. I am proud of that, just as I was proud when Mufti from Gorazde gave a donation for the temple that is to be built in Foca. Politicians in Banja Luka know that I am tough nut to crack and that it is not easy with me. They cannot arrest without grounds. If they come to arrest me, they can only get beat up,” says the mayor of Foca Zdravko Krsmanovic, at the end of the conversation.

Source Serbia Energy Magazine