Civil disobedience: Activists remove pipes of illegal hydropower plant in Serbia!

On Saturday, August 15th, hundreds of people from all over Serbia came to the village of Rakita with spades and mattocks to destroy illegal pipes of the Zvonce hydropower plant in their beloved Rakitska river. The investor laid the pipes illegally, but authorities didn’t act, so the people took matters into their own hands: “If the State is not doing its job and respecting the rule of law, we will do it for them!” was the motto of the action. Around 1 pm, the first hole in the pipe was celebrated with thunderous applause and cheering. The summer storm and hail did not stop the sounds of digging as rocks and stones were handed over in chains of hands. By the end of the day, the pipeline was left with several broken spots.

In 2019, the construction inspection of the Municipality of Babusnica stopped the works of the hydropower plant due to a number of shortcomings and the inspection of the Ministry of Environment and its Institute for Nature Protection ordered the removal of the pipeline in the length of about 350 meters. Yet, they still laid buried in the bed of the Rakitska river, the works on the mini-hydropower plant continued, and investors even received a usage permit this year. Thus, the Rakita village council decided to remove pipes of Zvonce SHPP on their own with the help of many activists. The action was covered by national and international news!

Our Serbian Blue Heart team from POLEKOL - Pravo na vodu also participated in the action: “We are here to show the villagers that they are not alone and forgotten. Today we are sending the message to all next “Rakitas” in Serbia: ¡No pasarán!“ says Iva Marković.

"The courageous resistance of the activists is an important signal: people no longer put up with everything and are resisting illegal activities of energy companies," says Tobias Frischmann, Blue Heart coordinator at EuroNatur. In Serbia alone, more than 870 hydroelectric power plants, mainly small hydroelectric power stations, are planned. Many of these are to be built in protected areas.

Ulrich Eichelmann, CEO of Riverwatch, says: "The Zvonce power plant has become a symbol of resistance in Serbia and now also in the entire Balkans against the excessive expansion of hydropower. With this action there is more hope for the Blue Heart of Europe."