Germany’s KfW bank drops financing of BiH hydropower project

A €30 million loan agreement between KfW and public utility Elektroprivreda Bosne i Hercegovine (EPBIH) was signed in 2014 for the 15.75 MW Janjići plant. [EPA-EFE/MAURITZ ANTIN]

German development bank KfW has confirmed on 28 January that it has dropped plans to finance the controversial Janjići hydropower plant on the river Bosna in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), RiverWatch announced.

€30 million loan agreement between KfW and public utility Elektroprivreda Bosne i Hercegovine (EPBIH) was signed in 2014 for the 15.75 MW Janjići plant. The plant would entail a 16 metre high dam and would flood a picturesque section of the river with a series of rapids upstream from Zenica.

The stretch is highly valued by local people and fishermen and provides habitat to protected species such as otters and at least 15 fish species of European importance, including the endangered Huchen. The hydropower plant would represent the first major barrier that would stop fish migration from the Danube, through the Sava and Bosna rivers up to Sarajevo.

“A year after filing a complaint to the bank, we welcome this decision. We would like to express our gratitude to our friends from other NGOs who helped us in this campaign. The next step is to erase the powerplant from the spatial plan, and Eko Forum has already submitted an initiative to the Cantonal Ministry for Spatial Planning”, said Samir Lemeš from the local initiative Eko Forum Zenica.

“This is a very promising step by Germany’s KfW and wonderful news for the Bosna river and the people who live along it. However, we will remain vigilant to ensure that no other financier backs the project”, said Ulrich Eichelmann from Riverwatch.

The biggest BiH media did not report on the KfW decision.

EURACTIV previously reported on Hollywood film star Leonardo DiCaprio calls on the Federation BiH (Croat and Bosniak one) to ban the construction of many small hydroelectric power plants. His activism has also spread into other Western Balkan countries, including Albania.

(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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