Residents of the village of Lumas clashed again with the police on Monday, following several weeks of protests against the construction of a new water supply system by the Municipality of Kuçova.
Protestors blocked the roads of the village, prohibiting the contractors’ vehicles from continuing construction, and clamored that the winning company does not allow them to get water from the only available spring in their area. Some protestors reported they had been injured, while others were forcibly escorted to the police station, after 20 days in a row of protests.
For the past two months, residents have been using protests as a way to protect the source of the river Sineci, where a new water supply project will be built. According to them, the project undertaken by the Municipality of Kuçova to supply other villages with water was greenlit without their presence or acknowledgement.
In a statement released on May 21, the Municipality of Kuçova stated that the constructions of the water system will not affect the Sineci spring, and there will be water available for the residents of Lumas as well.
The Sineci canyon, also known as “blue eye” of Berat, is considered an environmental treasure. In December 2002, it was declared a natural monument by the government, due to the diversity of its plant and animal species. But in 2019, Rama’s government repealed this decision by removing the protection afforded by the natural monument status, thus paving the way for its use and development.
Immediately after the removal of the protections, the water supply project was designed to supply water to some villages in the area, which will affect not only the natural beauty of the area, but also its flora and fauna.
The project were contracted to Salillary for $350 million and construction began in February.