World Water Day: The group “To protect the rivers” demands a moratorium on hydropower plants in Albania.

++HECs generate conflicts in affected communities and destroy the environment irreversibly++

Tirana, March 22, 2017. On the occasion of the World Water Day, the group “To protect the rivers” wants to draw the attention of decision-makers by stating that the construction of HPPs in Albania has not been done in harmony with nature and the communities that are affected.

Concerned by the government’s indifference to repeated demands, protests and public positions against the uncontrolled construction of hydropower plants on the country’s rivers, environmental organizations reiterate their demand for a 3-year moratorium on the development and implementation of hydropower projects throughout the country. the territory of Albania.WaterDay

In the study “Cases of water conflicts related to the development of hydropower in Albania” conducted by several active environmental organizations, at least 18 cases of conflicts related to hydropower plants during the period 2012-2016 were identified as part of the group. In most cases, hydropower plants generate conflicts between the construction or operating company and the affected community. Communities and NGOs have protested and taken many steps to oppose the projects of these HPPs, where as a result 34 people have been arrested and escorted to the police, among them women and children.

The rights to use water, mainly for irrigation, and the lack of information and consultations (in 21% of cases) are the main causes that lead to conflicts related to the development of hydropower plants in the country. In the 18 documented conflict cases, 6 victims closely related to the hydropower projects were reported (3 victims from accidents at work; 1 victim from the conflict arising from the construction of the HPP; 1 injured and 1 attempted murder). In none of the conflicting cases identified, the parties have not reached an official cooperation agreement due to protests or objections from local residents. The transformation or appropriation of the territory and the ecosystem by new users (energy concession companies) have displaced and deprived them of the traditional right to use water and have threatened different layers of society. 52% of interviewees state that local communities/farmers and villagers are the most affected group. In 67% of cases, the reaction started after the machines had started digging on the site.

On the other hand, hydropower plants damage the environment irreversibly, causing the destruction of the landscape, habitats and biodiversity, changing the water flow regime and flooding. Most of them are located in areas of high environmental and social sensitivity, in protected natural areas and in inhabited lands. In Albania, the negative social and environmental consequences have caused debates, objections, conflicts, protests and lawsuits regarding hydropower plants, where we can mention the case of the Pocem hydropower plant on the Vjosa River or the HPPs in the Valbona River National Park and the National Park Shebenik – Jabllanica. The main reason is related to the fact that no sanctuary, park or river has been left untouched by this explosion of concessions.

Therefore, the “To protect the rivers” group asks the government for a 3-year moratorium on the development and implementation of HPP projects throughout the territory of Albania, which will create the opportunity to intervene immediately to curb this situation and improve it quickly of the current situation, which is considered alarming by civil society and various donors in the field of nature conservation.

Additional information:

During 2002-2016, 183 concession agreements signed by the government for the construction of 524 hydropower plants have been identified. Of these figures, 117 HPPs are in operation and licensed by ERE; 43 HPPs are under construction and 364 HPPs are planned by the Ministry of Energy but have not started construction yet. Based on the concessions law (Article 36, point 1) the licenses for these concessions can be revised or cancelled.

The group “To protect the rivers” aims to protect the rivers of Albania from the uncontrolled development of energy projects.

Member organizations: EcoAlbania| EDEN Center | Miliekontakt Albania | INCA | Lex Ferenda Center | Institute of Environmental Policy | Illyria| Grouping Ecomovement | Egnatia | IMMT | Agri-en | Association of Young Environmental Experts | AOS |Alliance of the Albanian Alps.

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