Thursday, April 25, 2013

Development Bank continues to fund coal projects in Serbia shows another front line in the battle between energy and the environment

Vitomir Simic, 53, said the faded photograph, black and white parents, even hanging on the wall of the house, abandoned Radljevo, a village southwest of Belgrade, Serbia. Its hidden plot only a modest inch giant fractures that opened the walls of the house where he was born, and forced him and his three son to flee.

SIMI? work near the coal mine Kolubara, helping to keep the giant bulldozers to scrape the earth day and night. This relentless pursuit of expanded coal mining limits, threatening entire villages and causing landslides and earthquakes that destroyed homes like yours. Like many other peoples of the Kolubara basin, Simic was moved by the work of the mine.

Kolubara is the heart of the energy sector of Serbia dependent on coal, and that the powers of any other bulb in the country relishes by politicians and state officials increasingly under pressure to justify their social and environmental impact. In recent years, Kolubara was hit by complaints from local communities, led by environmentalists, and tainted by allegations of corruption.

tensions between residents and the local mines were intensified in 2011, when hundreds of police arrived Vreoci, 10 km Radljevo, standing guard as workers searched the village cemetery. "We were in a state of siege," says Zeljko Stojkovic, a community activist with Vreoci Ecological Society, a local NGO. Not only painful for those who have relatives in the cemetery, he said, but it is as an excellent example of how the mine is to choose what moves, and how, from their needs by themselves .

"This was done by the force of expanding the field," said Stojkovic, who was also chairman of the village at the time of excavation. "Our request was to give us a resettlement plan collective, including public infrastructure, and not for the first time the cemetery and let people here with all these boxes. "

Bien Radljevo now at the forefront of the western expansion of Kolubara, Vreoci is at the center of the complex, located between two of the largest stands. This has had devastating consequences for the local environment, said Stojkovic. "All coal Vreoci comes through ... and all the negative impacts remain here even lose the dirty water from the process ends in the center of the city. Ago health problems, respiratory problems, cancer, life expectancy is shortened. people are constantly under stress. "

politicians and state officials are quick to say that the expansion of Kolubara is essential to ensure a stable supply of electricity for the country and that, in comparison, very few complaints. "In general, the requirements have been met. If you look at [the people] are mostly satisfied, "says Dragan Alimpijev, Lazarevac mayor, the municipality Vreoci. "People who complain, not many."

"The problem is the past we could not move the mines," said Ljubomir Aksentijevic, Special Advisor to the Minister of Energy of Serbia, which recognizes that housing resettlement nearby mines moved slowly but argues that we must distinguish "between individual cases, which can be tragic, and the overall picture." The government is working to prevent such problems, he said, and plan new hydroelectric plants, for example, be built outside the colonies.

It may be little consolation for Stojkovic, the organization is now trying to keep financial Kolubara on the account. In July 2011, more than 70 people who traveled Vreoci offices in Belgrade, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), asking to take responsibility for the actions of Elektroprivreda Srbija (EPS), the company energy state that has the Kolubara mine.

last year Vreoci Ecological Society and the Village Council filed a formal complaint (pdf) with the EBRD, asking that the bank has suspended its activities Kolubara support until the end of the resettlement Vreoci.

In a polished office in New Belgrade, EBRD Senior Advisor Ian Brown says 2,011 bank credit is not mine, but extends to streamline operations, reduce emissions and Local pollution. Resettlement Vreoci not directly related to the investment bank, says flatly: "We are well aware of Vreoci ... but not directly on EBRD investments. "

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