REACTION: MESP and Municipality of Pristina to not become Institutions for Environmental Degradation

14 January 2020

Pristina, 14 January 2020 - Balkan Green Foundation (BGF), GAP Institute, Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) and Institute for Development Policy (INDEP) reject all plans and projects to change land use near Lake Badovc, for business/residential purposes knowing its strategic importance for the security of drinking water supply and for an ecological environment for citizens of Pristina and beyond.

At the same time, we express our concern with the approach of the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning (MESP) which has become an instrument for legitimization of environmental degradation by allowing construction in protected areas, by granting environmental permits to hydropower plants that damage river flow, and endangering the protected areas around surface water resources.

We request from MESP and Municipality of Pristina to take measures for proper implementation of Law no.04 / L-147 on waters, MESP Administrative Instruction No.15 / 2017, and decision of Government of Republic of Kosovo No.16 / 127 on the designation of protected areas and their protective measures for the Badovc surface water source.

Weeks ago, the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning had proposed to Amend and Supplement the Kosovo Law on Waters. There, the Ministry had proposed to amend Article 48 of the current Law on “Protection of Waterways and Reservoirs”, namely paragraph 1.3, which proposed to change the building permitting distance from 30 meters to 10 meters from the waterline in the current Law. One of the partner organizations of this response has opposed and sent comments and we once again call on MESP to withdraw from this harmful legal initiative.

As a reminder, based on the same Government decision (14/127 dated 24 April 2013), the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning has taken the decision to demolish the beaches built near Batlava Lake in 2014, threatening to sue The European Union Office in Kosovo as an investor in the beach project in Batllava. MESP is silent on an even more damaging project, which foresees the construction of a residential neighborhood near Badovc Lake.

The safety of quality, safe and clean water supply is a basic right and of critical importance for the inhabitants of Pristina Municipality. Knowing the climate difficulties that the country is already facing, knowing that the level of the lakes has fallen by about 10 meters, new construction in the area would further exacerbate the situation in the lakes and could affect negatively the water quality, especially during the construction and operation phase.

BGF, GAP, GLPS and INDEP stand against this project and call on the MESP and Pristina authorities to:

  • To reject and revoke all permit applications for the implementation of this harmful plan for the sustainable development of the capital and beyond.
  • To stand for the protection of the public interest mandated by the laws in force and the Constitution.
  • Not to approve a project that further suffocates public spaces, contradicts country legislation on the protection of water resources, adversely affects the environment and biodiversity, and causes Pristina and its surroundings to lose even that little greenery that’s left and fades the citizens opportunity to visit Lake Badovc.