After the hydropower plant in Valbona, a debate is expected to open and the one planned for the Vjosa river, as the Pocem hydropower plant is otherwise called. Residents of several villages of Mallakastra gathered to ask the government for a public hearing.
The meeting was organized by EcoAlbania, where, as stated in a press release, “after the lack of public consultation on the construction of the Pocem hydropower plant and the authorities’ negligence to consider their demands, the residents of the villages most affected by construction of the Pocem dam, they ask the government to hold public hearings in the area. According to the information that EcoAlbania has been able to provide officially, it turns out that the public hearing for the Pocem hydropower plant was held on February 28, 2015 in the city of Fier” but this, as Olsi Nika, Executive Director of EcoAlbania, said, “constitutes a violation of the law on consultation public, where according to him public hearings for HPP projects should be held with the community directly affected by the construction of the dam and as close as possible to the area in question. Today we are in Kuta and no resident of the area has been informed about this hearing”.
It is further stated that “the hydropower plant with a 50 m high dam, creating a reservoir of 24 km2, will flood the villages of Kutë, Çorrush, Anëbreg, Shkozë, Sevaster, as well as many other villages and will cause numerous social and environmental problems flooding thousands of hectares of farmland, pastures and olive groves. The company or the responsible institutions did not inform them in advance about the project and therefore did not become part of the decision-making process. Therefore, EcoAlbania is undertaking a campaign of informative and awareness-raising meetings with the community affected by the construction of the Pocem HPP. Present at these meetings, the Mayor of Mallakastër, Mr. Agron Kapllanaj once again expressed his support towards the community. ‘I am here to protect your interests and to tell you that you are not alone. We will make all our institutional efforts so that your voice is heard by the decision-makers,” he said.
According to EcoAlbania, “Vjosa is an issue of international importance and a unique river for all of Europe. Therefore, undertaking these steps requires the involvement of all interested parties and in accordance with the best European standards of democracy. “The local community has the right to become part of the country-making in important decisions that are directly related to essential and vital issues for them. In this way, we encourage community-based initiatives to increase pressure on decision-makers for accountability.”
The same problem also appeared in the case of the Skavica hydropower plant, which actually dates back to the mid-80s as a project, Komani had just finished. In both cases, Turkish companies are behind the crimes. But days ago, the one who was going to build Skavica, withdrew after clarifying the reasons. The opposition continued to accuse the government of having affairs with the Turks of “Suzer”, while on the ground the residents and local authorities showed opposition to the construction of the hydropower plant.