Protests against Valbona hydro-power plants resume in Albania’s North

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 11, 2018 10:54

Protests against Valbona hydro-power plants resume in Albania’s North

Story Highlights

  • Protesters at the scene told local media that despite government claims after months of nationwide protests that the plants will be built according to safety measures and respecting nature, on Sunday they heard mine explosions which, in addition to damaging their houses, are also a danger to the lives’ of people.

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TIRANA, June 11 – Albanians living in Tropoja’s Dragobia area blocked the national Tropoja-Valbona road in protest on Monday, after explosions at the Valbona Valley, where two hydro-power plants are to be soon built, caused erosion and damaged their houses.

In support of the area’s citizens, all trade units in Valbona paused their activities during the day and joined the protest, while also notifying the media to cover the protest calling for the government not to build the hydro-power plants.

Protesters at the scene told local media that despite government claims after months of nationwide protests that the plants will be built according to safety measures and respecting nature, on Sunday they heard mine explosions which, in addition to damaging their houses, are also a danger to the lives’ of people.

Citizens told media that mine explosions may become a serious hazard to their houses and lives even in the future, while adding the road-blocking protest is just the first step of their plans, as they also plan to stop the hydro-power plants from being built altogether, if necessary.

Meanwhile, a representative from the National Environmental Agency confirmed to the media that frequent mine explosions have damaged the mountains around the valley, which risks causing an avalanche of big rocks in case of a minor earthquake.

The plants’ construction company, however, claims that mine explosions are only part of the process.

“If citizens’ houses were damaged from this process we will rebuild them in context of the area’s rehabilitation plan, which is an important part of the project,” a representative said.

The Dragobia houses represent the characteristic local architecture of Albanian Alpine villages.

They are usually made of gray, triangle towers, with small windows and round gates. Some of them are over 100 years old, remaining standing due to the thick stone walls. However, last year’s ongoing mine explosions have reportedly weakened the houses’ foundations.

Currently, heavy rocks have taken over the houses’ yards, putting citizens’ life in danger and compromising the surrounding nature.

Several protests have taken place in the capital Tirana since December calling for the protection of the Valbona National Park. Citizens and activists have insistently protested against building hydro-power plants on the Valbona River, one of the country’s most beautiful rivers.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 11, 2018 10:54