Stop construction of two hydroelectric power stations in Albania
A demonstration in Tirana in September 2018 against hydroelectric projects along the wild Vjosa and Valbona rivers in the south-east of the country. Photo: EPA-EFE / MALTON DIBRA
The municipal law enforcement office in Tropoja, northern Albania, on Wednesday ordered government agencies and private companies to stop work on two hydropower plants on the Valbona River or face fines and penalties. lawsuits.
The decision comes five years after a group of local residents and an NGO called Toka (Land) filed a lawsuit with the court, complaining that the construction of hydropower plants could damage the environment, negatively impact their lives. and on tourism in Valbona. National Park.
Wednesday’s decision said that the agencies and private companies involved in the project – the Ministry of Energy, the National Environment Agency, the Ministry of the Environment, the National Council of the Territory, the Council of Drin-Buna watershed and the companies Gener 2 and Dragobia Energy – are required to implement the decision to stop work within ten days.
After the deadline expires, they could be fined up to 50,000 Albanian lek (406 euros) and reported for prosecution.
The concession contract between companies and institutions was suspended by the Supreme Court in June this year, pending a final court ruling.
But the companies continued to work on the construction of the Valbona River plant.
On October 27, the General Directorate of Judicial Officers ordered a local bailiff, Eduard Mrishaj, to stop the work. However, the work did not stop.
BIRN asked Mrishaj why the order was not followed, but he refused to answer, saying he was not the right person to answer.
In 2007, a permit was approved for the construction of the Dragobia hydroelectric power station in Valbona. The company Gener 2 has signed the concession contract with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Energy.
But the company has been accused of forging signatures, using the names of the deceased. In a BIRN investigation in June 2016, local residents said the list of signatories included people who had died three years earlier, while others who were listed as having signed said they did not. made.
The charges were, however, dropped when the case closed in 2018.
The Valbona Valley was declared a National Park in 1996 and is considered one of the most attractive places in Albania.
The construction of the Valbona hydroelectric power station has raised fears that it will damage the environment and the tourism potential of the region, known as the Albanian Alps.