For years, the government in Bosnia and Herzegovina did not pay much attention to environmental protection. Instead of the environment, the interests of the owners of large capital were more important to the competent institutions. Even the citizens, with the exception of individuals, were not environmentally conscious enough, until the garbage arrived at their door. As the competent institutions, very often without the knowledge of the local population, granted approvals for various concessions, from mines to hydroelectric plants, citizens were forced to self-organize through various associations and informal groups in order to protect their environment.
The protection of producers is more important than the health of the population
Almost a month after the publication of information by the Institute of Public Health of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina that faeces and bacteria are present in certain bottled waters, the public in Bosnia and Herzegovina still has no information about what those waters are.
"Don't ask us for names, because we are not authorized to talk about individual producers", the director of the Federal Institute for Public Health, Siniša Skočibušić, informed the public.
The Federal Administration for Inspection Affairs informed the public that it is neither ethical nor logical for them to say which producers they are.
The samples were taken in October, November and December last year so that citizens of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina could buy water with faeces and bacteria for a year.
The Ombudsman for Consumer Protection of Bosnia and Herzegovina sent a "representation" to the Institute of Public Health of FBiH, after which they should have more specific information regarding the case of finding bacteria in bottled water.
Total flooding in the Bukovica and Trstionica rivers
At the beginning of December, a fish kill occurred in the Bukovica and Trstionica rivers in the Kakanj municipality, near one of the drinking water pumping stations. The Bistro Kakanj Sports Fishing Association warned the public that there is a total famine in these rivers. Competent municipal and cantonal inspectors went to the field and took the samples needed for the investigation.
On the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day, the Informal Citizens' Group of Trstionica and Boriva Nature Park held a street action and a peaceful protest in order to once again point out all the irregularities and unanswered questions related to the Mehorić case, its devastation and the promised remediation on this symbolic date. They also wanted to point out the death of fish in the Trstionica and Bukovica rivers and warn again about the wider danger of water pollution, which supplies all the citizens of Kakanj.
"We are constantly addressing the authorities because of all the irregularities in the entire case we are faced with, starting with the illegal concrete plant in the area designated for the highest level of protection, up to the concessions issued in the same area as in the area where the Bukovica river originates, which Kakanj drinks and into which different streams are flowing and which are also under the same concession for the heavy metal mine in Vares", said Hajrija Čobo, a member of the informal group "Trstionica and Boriva Nature Park", stating that "now there has also been a fish kill in Bukovica and Trstionica. We are fish too! We too are a part of nature, a segment in the chain, and we will probably drown if we remain silent!"
The interest of one company is more important than the citizens of the municipalities of Petrova and Jezera
Residents of Ozren settlements in the municipalities of Petrovo and Jezero fear that the opening of mines in their municipalities will permanently destroy their environment. Since no one asked the citizens anything, the competent institutions gave consent to the companies Lykos Balkan Metals and SNK metals for geological exploration.
Locals in the municipality of Petrovo claim that due to behind-the-scenes actions by the investor "Lykos Balkan Metals" and the republican authorities, geological research in this area continues secretly, even though at the end of May this year, under public pressure, the consent of the Ministry of Energy and Mining of the RS for geological research in the municipality of Petrovo was withdrawn.
Research is also opposed in the municipality of Jezero, where "Lykos Balkan Metals", through "SNK Metali", also intends to carry out detailed geological research. Let us remind you that the Municipal Assembly unanimously adopted an act requesting the relevant ministry to suspend the research. Regardless of that, the company SNK Metali sent their request for consent to carry out the research directly to the Mayor of the Municipality of Snežani Ružićić.
In mid-October, the citizens of Jezero municipality organized a protest called "Stop the mines in the Pliva valley". Locals are against conducting exploration works and the possible opening of a mine in the area around the Pliva river, believing that this can disrupt the ecological balance, water purity, natural beauty, and way of life.
Endangering the safety of citizens
In Sanski Most, in the Kamengrad settlement, the locals have been protesting since mid-November due to the intention of the Lager company to open an open pit mine in the area of their local community, which was permanently closed in the 1980s due to the triggering of a landslide that forced the locals to permanently move out of their houses.
Months ago, citizens, non-governmental organisations, and the media warned about the pollution of the Bliha river and its waterfall, which is a protected natural monument, by the Lager company and the Kamengrad mine.
Because of the fear that the opening of the mine would lead to a danger to the environment and the health of the inhabitants, the citizens of Bugojno gathered in an informal group to stop the illegal exploitation of dolomite in the area of the local community of Poriče, where the exploitation of technical construction stone dolomite in the locality of Bukovački potok is planned. Unbeknownst to the locals, in May of this year the Government of SBK and the company Kvatro d.o.o. Bugojno concluded a Concession Agreement for the exploration of technical construction stone, dolomite, at the Bukovački potok location in the Bugojno municipality.
In Kreševo, the federal water inspector again banned the operation of the Rastovice and Krčevina quarries in October of this year. The owner, the company BFS, does not have the necessary permits to operate the quarry, which pollutes the environment every day by releasing waste water and endangers the health of local residents.
On the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day, the Krešev Civic Movement and the Informal Group of Citizens of Porica from Bugojno have once again called on the Ministry of Economy and the Government of SBK to terminate the concession contracts for the Rastovice and Krčevina quarries in Kreševo and for the planned quarry in Porica, Bugojno, due to the actions that it is not in accordance with the law and situations in which the law itself mandates the termination of the concession.
In the municipality of Rogatica, residents have launched a petition to ban the construction of a small hydroelectric power plant on the Žepa River.
"For more than a decade, the attempts of greedy and heartless "investors" and individuals, who are ready to destroy all the wealth and beauty of the Žepa River, our present and our future, by building a hydropower plant for a pittance. All the stories about the benefits of building any hydropower plant on the Žepa River are pure lies, greedy extortion and an attack on our present and future, an attack on the environment, beauty and water wealth of our region", this is an invitation to sign the petition initiated by the residents of Žepa to stop the destruction of their river.
In mid-December, the northwest of the country was hit by floods - Prijedor, Bihać, Sanski Most, Kulen Vakuf, Novi Grad, Kozarska Dubica, Kostajnica. Some of these places are flooding for the second time this year, and the problem, apart from heavy rainfall, as the locals say, is also the irresponsible attitude of the competent institutions because they do not maintain the riverbeds.
- The key is to unite as many individuals as possible to solve environmental problems, Safet Kubat, founder of the Rijeka BiH Budi promjena group, warned earlier for Žurnal.
Let us remind you that in a very short time this group managed to motivate more than 20,000 people to take Facebook activism to the streets and create a real environmental movement. Activists and members of the group showed what individuals can do when they unite. They organized 3,500 actions to clean rivers and green areas, planted about 90 thousand trees and released more than 100 thousand fish young into rivers and wild streams throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2021, the activists of this group carried out the largest clean-up operation in the territory of BiH, where they collected over 30 tons of waste in one day, and gathered over 850 activists.
They actively participated in the protests against the construction of MHP on the territory of BiH, both by direct participation in the protests and with digital support, they gave active support to the population of Jezero, Modriča, Šipovo, Ozren, and Vareš in the fight against the construction of mines in the mentioned locations, they actively supported the fight for the protection of the rivers Sanica, Janjica, Neretvice, Žepa, and Ugar mountain. They also actively worked with children in schools - organized workshops, education, and concrete actions, initiated the formation of several ecological associations and established cooperation with certain municipalities ready to work more on environmental protection.
"There is a large number of fights, usurpations are at every step. We need broad solidarity, networking, connection, support for each other, understanding, constructive criticism, and positive suggestions. We don't have time, the exploitation of our natural resources is present or planned on every inch of our country. And this country will remain and survive thanks to individuals, who will or will not do something... Let's support each other", said the Rijeka BiH Budi promjena group.