Residents of settlements along the Bistrica River near Foca, in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), where a Chinese contractor is carrying out preparatory work for the construction of hydroelectric power plants, are threatening protests if the work continues.
The work is being carried out by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
The Chinese were hired by the Elektoprivreda of the Republika Srpska (RS) entity for the construction of hydropower plants “Bistrica” 1, 2, and 3. In December 2021, the official start of the works was made, although there is no valid environmental permit for the project.
At the beginning of August, the Chinese company also opened its representative office in Foca, which is located in a local cafe-pizzeria.
Due to its dealings with the Chinese military, it is on the list of those in which American citizens and businesses are prohibited from investing.
”The locals are against it because they are afraid that the river will be completely destroyed by the construction of the hydropower plant, ” Vladimir Ninkovic, a member of the Council of the Miljevina local community through which the Bistrica flows, told Radio Free Europe (RSE).
“As the hydropower plants are close to us, we experience and see how there is no river, how the river is in a pipe, how there are no fish, how there are no crabs. Everything is destroyed, flora, fauna, it will simply disappear. The river is pushed into the pipe and electricity is being produced,” Ninkovic said.
They think similarly in the neighboring local community of Kuta, where they also state that they wrote to the authorities to stop the works, but there was no response.
“Nobody is in favor of destroying the water, because the water will be destroyed when it is blocked, there will be consequences,” said Luka Bodiroga, president of the Kuta Municipality.
“We will fight, what else but to fight so that it does not continue and is not built under these conditions,” told Bodiroga.
From the representative office of the company in Foca, RSE received a short comment that they are still waiting for all the necessary permits to start construction.
A man who introduced himself only as Chen, and said that he was a coordinator in BiH representative office of the company AVIC, pointed out that preparatory works and geological research are currently underway, and that they, as the contractor, are not responsible for obtaining the permit, but hydroelectric power plant Bistrica, RSE reports.