Orthodox Church sued over HPP damage to bridges

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 1, 2018 09:13

Orthodox Church sued over HPP damage to bridges

TIRANA, July 31 – The Albanian Orthodox Church has been sued by a local government unit over damage to local bridges while building and operating three hydropower plants in Elbasan region, central Albania.

Reporter.al news agency, BIRN Albania’s online Albanian language publication, says the Librazhd Municipality is seeking compensation from the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania over damage to local bridges that could put local residents’ lives at risk.

A lawyer with the municipality of Librazhd, a local government unit of some 32,000 residents, says water discharges and construction works for the Rapuni hydropower plants run by the Orthodox Church’s “C & S ENERGY” company have damaged a rope bridge, putting at risk the lives of a neighborhood just outside town.

Local government officials and residents also reportedly blame the Orthodox Church for damage to a bigger concrete bridge linking two villages to Librazhd.

The municipality says it undertook legal action after the Orthodox-church-owned company declined to assume responsibility over claimed damage estimated at 11 million lek (€87,000).

However, a spokesperson for the Orthodox Church told BIRN they were not aware of the legal action and that the church had good relations with the municipality and settled issues with local residents by repairing the bridges twice.

The Orthodox Church said it build the Rapuni HPPs to strengthen its economic independence and contribute more to education and health projects throughout the country.

Orthodox believers were officially reported at 6.7 percent in the latest 2011 census, but the Orthodox Church did not recognize the outcome, claiming that Orthodox community in Albania is the second largest and at about a quarter of the resident population.

The small Rapuni HPPs are situated at Shebenik-Jabllanicë National Park, central-east Albania close to the Macedonia border, where dozens of other HPPs have been built, triggering environmental concern that led to a legal changes banning the construction of hydropower plants in Albania national parks starting 2017.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 1, 2018 09:13