Environmentalist organization Green Home has said it raised a criminal case with the Supreme State Prosecution Office of Montenegro against officials it claims are responsible for abuse of power in the procedure of project development for small hydropower plant Lještanica.
Decision makers from the departments for spatial planning and rural and sustainable development in Bijelo Polje failed to act but also exceeded authority, enabling concessionaire Hydro Lještanica Doo to obtain the environmental clearance, according to the files in the criminal complaint.
Location is planned to be part of nature park
The facility is envisaged to be built at the water supply source at the eponymous river. Activists claim municipal representatives have ignored legal regulation, opinions issued by state institutions for environmental protection and locals in the village of Lijeska and Bijelo Polje in the country’s northeast. The project leads to hydrologic change and damage for plants and animals at the site of Stožernica canyon, which is planned to be declared a nature park, the press release reads.
Furthermore, it adds, the Secretariat for Rural and Sustainable Development is willingly concealing the fact that the abstraction of drinking water at the place where households are harnessing it would be a violation of the Water Law. The case has reached the Constitutional Court in a separate process, while locals disputed the land expropriation.
Abstracting drinking water at the place where households are harnessing it would violate the Water Law
A protest and a public discussion about the environmental impact study are scheduled for December 17.
Decisions to allow the construction of small hydropower plants or SHPPs can be changed, but it takes time, Duško Marković said in September. At the time, he expressed surprise that it is possible Lještanica river would be put into a pipe. The decisions aren’t irreversible if they concern the state’s or citizens’ interest, he asserted.
The most critical incidence of destructive behavior
Green Home insists on similarities with plans for SHPPs on the rivers like the Bukovica, Komarača, Đurička and Bistrica and claims “the most critical incidence of destructive behavior” is at hand. The government in Podgorica decided in October to scrap contracts for the construction of ten small hydroelectric units on six rivers in Bijelo Polje, Plav, Andrijevica and Šavnik. In some of the cases the concept of development would miss its purpose, which is to improve the quality of life and development of local communities, which cannot be separated from maintaining the unique nature and healthy environment at the places in question, Marković said at the time.
Hydro Lještanica is controlled by Synergy Doo, which the opponents of the project criticize over links with Montenegro’s top officials. The planned capacity is 2.3 MW with an annual output of 8 GWh. The power generation unit should take up a total of 3.3 hectares, where the pipeline would be four kilometers long.