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Eco-patrol of Pljevlja

Pljevlja is the most polluted city in Montenegro (based on the data from NASA, also in Europe), and a good example of an environment that is rich in natural resources (coal, forests, minerals, water) which are not used in a sustainable manner. Significant sources of air pollution in Pljevlja are: the power plant Pljevlja, ash […]

Pljevlja is the most polluted city in Montenegro (based on the data from NASA, also in Europe), and a good example of an environment that is rich in natural resources (coal, forests, minerals, water) which are not used in a sustainable manner.

Significant sources of air pollution in Pljevlja are: the power plant Pljevlja, ash and slag dump Maljevac, coal mine Pljevlja, unprotected surface mines, the transport system, transport and mine machinery, Jagnjilo dump, timber industry plant Vektra Jakić, city boilers, individual heating, landfill litter and illegal dump sites.

As for water in municipality of Pljevlja, the most notable is the surface water contamination, primarely of river Ćehotina, which was recognized in the 50′s by the European ichthyologists and biologists as one of the richest european waters in salmonid fish populations. However, because of coal exploitation, lead and zinc in Šula, power plants, municipal sewage and illegal dumps on the banks of Ćehotina, her condition became very alarming. Of the former edible fish population, only 20% of the fish stock is present today. In the city and downstream, the river represents a drain for waste and municipal sewage, so it is not suitable for swimming anymore.

When it comes to land, a significant problem in the area is the exploitation of natural resources and physical vulnerability of available arable land. This primarily refers to: the surface mining of coal and minerals, depositing different materials (slag, fly ash, waste), construction of residential, industrial, and utility infrastructure, construction of roads and water reservoirs, etc.

Different kinds of waste also represent a big problem in the municipality of Pljevlja. According to earlier data, of the total amount of waste generated in Montenegro annually, Pljevlja generates 571.000 tons or 60%.

All of this prompted the Pljevlja NGO “Da zaživi selo” to start a project called Eco-patrol of Pljevlja, which is financially supported by an ETNAR sub-grant. The goal of this project is to inform the general public of Montenegro on environmental issues in Pljevlje and to draw attention of relevant entities (polluters, local government, environmental inspectors, the Ministry of Sustainable Development, utility inspection, etc.). Once identified, this problem will have to be addressed.

The project formally started on November 1st 2013, and some of its activities have already been implemented. Within the first five months of the project, all the sources of pollution of water, air and landscape in municipality of Pljevlja were identified and recorded. This activity was the most important because all other activities depend on it.

In the second phase of the project the data collected were used to start a media campaign on environmental problems in Pljevlja. All kinds of media were used for this purpose, including internet portals Pvportal.me, dazaziviselo.me, organization’s Youtube canal and Facebook page, local television RTV Pljevlja and TV Vijesti, as well as local newspapers of Pljevlja and daily newspapers: Dan, Vijesti, Danas, Dnevne novine.

Also, a number of complaints were filed to the Directorate for Inspection Affairs of Montenegro, the Agency for Environmental Protection and to Communal police of the municipality of Pljevlja. All of these were directed against Pljevlja polluters and every one of them was supported by facts and photos. Some of the results achieved thus far are:

-the communal police in Pljevlja decided to remove illegally constructed dams on the river Vežišnica;

-four inspections by the Directorate for Inspection Affairs of Montenegro were carried through, and ordered the appropriate measures to be taken in order to protect the environment;

-an order from the Inspection Directorate, which requires the coal mine to perform quality analysis of mine waste water.

A 25 min documentary film called “Pljevlja – a degraded city”, and showing the grim picture of the city and all its ecological problems, was also shot. It was presented on the 11th Ecology Fair held from 03rd to 05th of April in Budva (an event gathering all the relevant stakeholders in the field of ecology in Montenegro and the region), as well as on local television Pljevlja. Negotiations are ongoing to broadcast the film on one of the national televisions. In parallel to this activity a brochure was made, cataloging all sources of pollution in Pljevlja. It was printed in more than 1000 pieces. It was distributed mostly on the Water fair in Budva, and copies were also given to all the relevant institutions which can contribute to better ecological status of Pljevlja.

The project is realised with support from EU funded IPA CSF project Advocacy NGOs networks for sustainable use of energy and natural resources in the Western Balkans and Turkey – ETNAR IPA-CSF-2012/306-573.

30.05.2014.