Inhabitants of the Zall-Gjoçaj National Park area have been protesting for more than a week against construction of two hydropower plants (HPP).
They chose to erect a tent in the area and protest 24/7 after local authorities and government did not hear their months-long plea to stop the construction of Sekë and Zais hydropower plants.
Inhabitants of the area claim construction of plants will prevent them from using the water, through which they sustain their living, and will harm the area. They have protested several times during this year, including in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in the capital.
The government issued construction permits for the two HPPs in October, 2018. They are among the 99 HPP permits issued by the Rama government in the last 5 years.
Prime Minister Edi Rama said in July that the government would not issue any more permits for small HPPs, as they were “useless and harmful”. However, nothing has been done for the dozens of permits already issued, many of which in protected areas.
An investigation by journalist Artan Rama found that the government has approved a total number of 714 HPP concession contracts but it has reported a figure only around half that size. Concession contracts are issued before HPP construction permits.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio was the latest public figure to join calls for the protection of the Vjosa River, one of Europe’s last wild rivers, on which permits for the construction of more than a dozen HPPs were issued.