Freedom to the rivers!

27 July 2017

Activists fighting plans to build over 300 hydropower plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina have painted a giant mural of a woman smashing an old, broken dam on the Bašćica River.

Center for Environment/Friends of the Earth Bosnia & Herzegovina – part of the Coalition for the Protection of Rivers in Bosnia & Herzegovina, the group behind the 15 metre high installation – is calling for dam building to stop and for development to be focused on tourism and job-producing traditional activities.

Activists scale the dam to paint the mural

The Balkans as a whole is facing a "tsunami" of dams with over 2700 planned or in construction in the Western Balkans alone. This area is rich in biodiversity and holds some of Europe's finest and last free-flowing rivers. Construction of even a portion of these dams would cause untold damage to the regions nature and the communities that depend on the rivers.

The Idbar dam where the impressive mural was painted is a perfect example of the decades-old ignorance and ineptitude of those responsible for the ill-thought-out dam building. Built in 1959 to stop gravel going into the nearby Jablanica Lake, local communities' concerns about the danger of the river were ignored. Water behind the dam flowed quicker than anticipated and accumulated at high speeds, until the dam was breached and overflowed. It was a failure, and a hole was soon blown through it to allow the Bašćica River to flow freely again.

"As the Bašćica River is free, we want all rivers to be free. There are currently many battles against hydropower plants and local communities directly dependent on these rivers are ready to defend them by all means. Rivers are a common good, not the property of individuals. The authorities putting private interests over the public must stop. This is a unified fight!" said Natasa Crnkovic from Center for Environment /Friends of the Earth Bosnia & Herzegovina and the Coalition for the Protection of Rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The coalition brings together over 20 organizations from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina and was founded in June 2016 by nature lovers, individuals and organizations that are monitoring and reviewing plans for the construction of hydropower plants.