Currently, there are no environmental impact studies, and therefore no environmental permits are necessary to prevent a possible negative impact on the environment.
Jelena Ivanic from the non-governmental Center for the Environment, therefore, emphasizes that the project is undoubtedly controversial.
At the end of last year, the Chinese National Aerotechnological Corporation for International Engineering AVIC officially started the construction of hydroelectric power plants “Bistrica” 1, 2, and 3, in the presence of representatives of the Chinese Embassy in BiH and the Republika Srpska (RS) entity authorities.
Due to its dealings with the Chinese military, this company is on the list of those in which American citizens and companies are prohibited from investing.
The entire project is worth 102 million euros, and the total installed capacity of the three hydropower plants is 39 megawatts with a total annual production of 152 gigawatt–hours (GWh) of electricity.
According to the data of the State Agency for Statistics from 2020, BiH annually produces 16.874 GWh of electricity – of which 4.663 come from hydropower plants.
Although the cornerstone was laid on December 28th, part of the money for the construction was provided only on April 14th, when “Elektroprivreda” borrowed from “Unicredit Bank” from Banja Luka, from which it received 30 million BAM (15 million euros) in loans.
In the same month, the company “HE Bistrica” announced a public procurement for the supervision of construction works, worth 1.5 million euros.
Dejan Pavlovic, acting director of HPP Bistrica, told Radio Free Europe (RFE) that building permits from 13 years ago – obtained for preparatory work – are still valid.
The Banja Luka Center for the Environment claims that the citizens stated at the last public debate in Foca in April, when the Draft Environmental Impact Study was reviewed, that they were against hydroelectric power plants.
Jelena Ivanic from the Center points out that with the current permits, only preparatory works are possible. That, she says, was confirmed to them by the on-site inspection.
Chinese investments in BiH
Chinese investors plan to invest 130m euros in the Ivovik wind farm, which is planned to be built in the Tomislavgrad and Livno, areas of southwest BiH.
Infrastructure investments are also planned. The Chinese company Shandong should build a 42-kilometer highway from Banja Luka to Prijedor, the price of which is 297 million euros.