German development bank KfW has dropped plans to finance a controversial hydropower plant on the Bosna river in Bosnia-Herzegovina, environmentalist groups said on January 28.
KfW signed a 30 million euro ($33.5 million) financing arrangement with public utility EPBIH in 2014 for construction of the 15.75 MW Janjici plant.
If completed, the 16-meter-high dam would have created a 3-kilometer-long reservoir over a picturesque section of the river with a series of rapids upstream from the city of Zenica.
Environmental groups and locals had opposed the dam and filed complaints to the bank, arguing the project would damage the ecosystem and hurt protected species.
“The Janjici hydropower plant is clearly not in line with KfW's standards,” said Andrey Ralev, a biodiversity campaigner at CEE Bankwatch Network, a grassroots network of environmental groups in countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
“The river Bosna is the river after which our country is named,” said Emina Veljovic from the environmental Aarhus Center in Bosnia. “It was completely insane for an attempt to be made to destroy it by building the Janjici hydropower plant despite public opposition and contrary to domestic and international environmental laws.”
Environmental groups said the next step is to ensure no other banks fund the project and the government takes steps toward the long-term protection of the Bosna and many other Bosnian rivers.
Bosnia has 109 small hydropower plants. According to environmental organizations, an additional 345 are planned or under construction.