The “Friends of Vjosa” group, the “To protect the rivers” group and civil society activists protested today in front of the pyramid in Tirana, to oppose the government’s decision to grant the concession of the Pocem hydropower plant on the Vjosa river.
In the official bulletin of the National Public Procurement Agency, on February 1, the notice was published on the opening of the procedure for the granting of a 35-year concession for the construction of the Poçem hydropower plant in the lower reaches of the Vjosa River. Meanwhile, previously, on July 29, 2015, the Government approved the acceptance of an unsolicited request from the Turkish company Çinar-San for the construction of this project. The company in question has earned the right to a bonus of 8% even though it is a company with modest capacities and has no experience in the field of construction and management of hydropower plants, or energy in general.
During the electoral campaign for the local elections, Prime Minister Rama responded positively to the request of the residents of the Vjosa valley for its declaration as a National Park, promising that: “We will transform the Vjosa valley into a national park to prevent barbarism from hydropower plants and to develop tourism, economy, agriculture, to strengthen the family economy by increasing the number of visitors to this great park of Vjosa.”
But apparently, the barbarism on the Vjosë river – the blue heart of Europe unfortunately continues to definitively destroy one of the greatest values of national and European natural heritage.
“This is a decision taken in complete arbitrariness, ignoring the clear messages from the EU but also from experts and representatives of civil society in Albania and Europe” says Olsi Nika, representative of EcoAlbania and coordinator of the campaign “Saving the blue heart of Europe” “.
The battle for the river Vjosa is no longer only a national but also a European issue, as the Vjosa represents a unique ecosystem across the continent.
The construction of the HPP in Poçem would end the vision for the first National Park of a wild river in Europe and would undermine the economic development and the future of the entire Vjosa valley.
Today we ask:
- Cancellation of all concessions for hydropower plants that have been granted or are in the process of being built on the Vjosa river and its tributaries.
- The declaration of the Vjosa Valley National Park, which would constitute the first park of a natural river in Europe and would affect the economic development of the entire valley.
- Consider the request for a 3-year moratorium on HPPs on all rivers of Albania, which would give experts and decision-makers enough time to evaluate in a scientific and rational way the benefits and losses from the construction of these hydropower plants .
- The relevant state institutions should undertake the drafting of a Master Plan that would determine, according to certain criteria, the areas where hydropower plants can and should not be built. before the permits for HEC are granted.
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