The Prime Ministers of the Republic of Srpska and Serbia, Radovan Višković and Ana Brnabić, took part in the laying of the foundation stone for the construction of the 93 MW Buk Bijela hydropower plant on the Drina in the municipality of Foča. The facility should be completed in four years.
HPP Buk Bijela is a joint 220 million euro project of the energy suppliers Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) and Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske (ERS), which belong to Serbia and Srpska respectively. In the joint venture Hidroenergetski Sistem (HES) Gornja Drina, EPS is the majority owner with 51%, while ERS controls the rest. HES Gornja Drina was founded to build three HPPs in the upper reaches of the Drina: Buk Bijela, Foča (44 MW) and Paunci (43 MW).
Buk Bijela will have a 57 meter high gravity dam and the expected annual production is 332 GWh. Project development began a few decades ago in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, with a much larger capacity planned.
Višković: The construction period is six years, but the goal is to finish it in four years
Prime Minister of the Republic of Srpska Radovan Višković said the project meant life, connection, survival and prosperity, while Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić said the new HPP was a fresh start in relations between Serbia and the Republic of Srpska.
The deadline for building HPP Buk Bijela is six years, but the goal is to finish it in four years, announced Višković.
The energy ministers of the Republic of Srpska and Serbia, Petar Đokić and Zorana Mihajlović, as well as the directors of ERS and EPS, Luka Petrović and Milorad Grčić, were present at the laying of the foundation stone.
Bosnia and Herzegovina does not support the project. The Republic of Srpska and Serbia answer that everything is in accordance with the regulations
Bisera Turković, the foreign minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the Republic of Srpska, a Serb-dominated entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, did not have approval from Bosnia and Herzegovina to build the HPP Buk Bijela.
Serbia needs to know that by participating in the project, which does not have the approval of the state and opposes the decisions of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, not only economic damage but also relations between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina will be at risk, said you.
Prime Minister Radovan Višković replied that the construction of the HPP does not fall within the competence of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The issuing of construction concessions is the responsibility of the Commission for Concessions of the Republic of Srpska, so the government of Serbia does not have to speak to anyone other than the government of the Republic of Srpska, he said.
Prime Minister Ana Brnabić said Serbia carried out an analysis of all the rules, laws and constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina to protect its investments. Analyzes have shown that so far all concessions in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been granted by the companies or cantons and none have been contested, she added.
NGOs are demanding that construction be stopped
Non-governmental organizations, as well as river and extreme sports enthusiasts, warned, according to a statement by the Aarhus Center in Sarajevo, the Environmental Center in Banja Luka, Green that it is necessary to protect the Drina River and stop the construction of three dams in the upper reaches of Homeland, nature lovers Montenegro, NGO Da zaživi selo, SRK Lipljen – Pljevlja from Montenegro and WWF Adria.
The Drina River and its tributaries are the world’s most important habitat for the globally endangered species of Hucho hucho, including strictly protected species, and they are an increasingly popular tourist destination.
Several cases have been initiated against the construction of HPP Buk Bijela with domestic and foreign institutions
In December 2020, 24 members of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina initiated proceedings before the Constitutional Court against the decision of the Republic of Srpska, a concession for the construction of the three HPP as decisions regarding state property such as rivers at international borders can only be granted at the level of central government.
A case is also pending before the Espoo Implementation Committee regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina’s failure to consult Montenegro on transboundary environmental impacts, while the Aarhus Center in Sarajevo is filing an outdated environmental impact assessment complaint with the Supreme Court of the Republic of Srpska HPP has submitted.