Save Sana – Stop Kelag!

23.4.2016 - Sana

For the resources of the river Sana, more than 200 kayakers and environmentalists have declared that they will not give up the fight.

Today, more than 200 people, including kayakers, anglers, local people, and environmentalists protested at the international protest against the hydropower plant "Medna" that is being already under construction. The contractor is Austrian-German company Kelag. The Sana is one of the last remaining rivers in Europe where Danube salmon lives. This species is an important fish species that is also globally endangered.

"We will not give up the Sana and our struggle against Kelag”, said Nataša Crnković from the Centre for Environment – an organization fighting against the construction of this hydropower plant for more than seven years together with the other 22 organizations gathered in the Coalition for the Sana. "We appeal to Minister Golić to review the decisions of the Ministry and stop one of the worst projects in the Republic of Srpska,” says Nataša.

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The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, and Croatia took part in the protest along with a large number of local people. "99% of the local population opposes the construction of hydropower plant. However, our opinions have been ignored so far by national authorities,” says Ljubomir Lisica, a resident of the village Landeke which is situated alongside the Sana. The village has been suffering from the negative consequences of the hydropower plant construction for more than a year.

According to the survey of Riverwatch, around 45 million euros have been invested in the recovery of Danube salmon rivers in Austria since 1999. This investment enables the removal of river dikes and the other foreign barriers  to allow for greater space in the river.

“What the KELAG is doing to one of the most important Danube salmon rivers is just shameful. Neither in Germany nor Austria would they get away with it," said Ulrich Eichlemann from Riverwatch and coordinator of the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina has the most stunning rivers in Europe. Rivers like Sana, Una, and Neretva are unique. Anglers, kayakers, environmentalists – we all must join forces to prevent the dam craze here and on the entire Balkan Peninsula”, said Rok Rozman, an organiser of the Balkan Rivers Tour.

On Saturday April 23, under the slogan “Save the Balkan Rivers – Stop the Dam Tsunami,” kayakers from Europe were on the river Sana, the eighth river to paddle since their start on the river Sava Bohinjka, on April 16. The aim of Balkan Rivers Tour is to emphasize the importance of rivers and their vulnerability to hydropower plants construction. Led by former Olympic athlete Rok Rozman who is a founder of Leeway Collective, kayakers from Europe will paddle 18 rivers in six Balkan countries. The tour will end at the river Vjosa in Albania on May 20. Further information on http://www.balkanriverstour.com/.

For the sixth year in a row, on the occasion of Earth Day on April 22, and within the Balkan Rivers Tour, the Coalition for the Sana organized the protest picnic at the sources of Sana River on Saturday April 23, 2016. With this protest, the Coalition appeals for the preservation of sources of Sana River because the construction of the "Medna" plant is threatening to jeopardize one of the most beautiful natural heritage areas of our country.

Protest picnic was supported by Mountain Rescue Service Banja Luka which provided safety for all participants.

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To remind ourselves, the investor ‘LSB Elektrane’ Banja Luka owned by ‘Interenergo’ ltd Ljubljana under Kelag International (Austria) is trying to build a small hydropower plant "Medna" at the sources of the Sana River. The Coalition for the Sana developed a feasibility study and thus proved unprofitability of this project and a negative financial impact on the budget of the municipalities and the Republic of Srpska in the amount of BAM 1.055.988.

After seven years of the struggle and despite ongoing construction works, it is not too late to save the Sana. We hereby declare that we shall ‘not give up the Sana’.

International activities