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Who granted concession to HP investing for the quarry in Bijela and was the area outside land parcel?

kamenolom bijela
Photo: hercegovina.info

The concession of the Government of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton obliged the concessionaire to pay for the damage in the event of such disasters, and in this case it is not a negligible amount as we are taking about 836.516 cubic meters

The public of Herzegovina, as well as of the region, was shocked by the footage of the quarry landslide in the town of Bijela in the northern area of Mostar municipality. Nature showed all its strength and in just a few seconds a huge crater was created while large rocks ended up in the water and thus irrevocably destroyed the ecosystem of that part of nature which is a favorite destination of many mountaineers and nature lovers.

The real question would be of this could have been avoided, and the real answer is of course it could have, because it was ridiculous to issue any permits for the exploitation of heavy raw materials in the bed of the river, which is part of the pearl that is often emphasized and advertised as a miracle of nature.

Immediately after the accident the Ministry of Interior of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton confirmed for hercegovina.info that it is a quarry of the Mostar company HP Investing, owned by Haso Pekušić. The mining of the terrain caused a landslide, as a result of which a large volume of stones and earth fell into Lake Salakovac. It has caused significant material damage and several nearby parked vehicles were destroyed, and two persons sustained injuries of undetermined degree.

Who granted the concession to HP Investing?

The Government of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, headed by Nevenko Herceg, and the competent Ministry of Economy, then headed by Željko Laketić, granted Hasa Pekušić a concession for the exploitation of stone at the location “Bijela” for a period of 21 years.

koncesija kamenolom bijela

The concession for the quarry was granted in 2016, and the one-time concession fee is BAM 234,642.74. In the event that the object of the concession starts to be used in 2016, the current (annual) concession fee for that year is 0.60 BAM/m3. At that time, Minister Laketić estimated that all the conditions for granting the concession had been met and forwarded the proposal to the Government of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton in a letter asking for their final blessing.

He obviously got the blessing soon because HP became a concessionaire in this area, and it should be emphasized that the Mostar concession company got all the necessary permits: consent of the City of Mostar, decision on confirmed geological reserves, urban planning consent and environmental permit.

What to do now after severe ecocide and a permanently damaged ecosystem?

The concession of the Government of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton obliged the concessionaire to pay for the damage in the event of such disasters, and in this case it is not a negligible amount as we are taking about 836.516 cubic meters.

“The concessionaire commits to undertaking necessary measures for occupational safety, for the protection of life and health of citizens, as well as the safety of the property when conducting mining works, and that according to the main mining project, he will remediate the land and reclaim the devastated areas caused by the mining works, as well as to implement safety measures in order to permanently exclude dangers to the life and health of people and property and possible causes of environmental pollution, i.e. damage to buildings and the environment,” reads the granted concession.

Did HP mine the area beyond the land parcel identified in the concession?

If we are to believe the newly designed GIS system managed by the Institute for Spatial Planning of the City of Mostar, the company HP Investing has gone beyond the dimensions of the parcel it was identified by the concession, so excavation and exploitation and a road in a location that does not belong to the identified area can be observed on the satellite images. Despite the permits obtained, everyone can see how close the quarry area is to the river.

The quarry was included in the spatial plan of the City of Mostar in 2012 through amendments to the spatial plan of the City of Mostar, and it was then that the site “Bijela” was repurposed from forest land to a quarry for exploitation.

If we draw the coordinates from the concession, that is:

A 4 816 130 6 484 827
B 4 816 162 6 484 924
C 4 815 929 6 485 012
D 4 815 897 6 484 916

we can see for which exact area HP investing received a permit for stone exploitation. The red crosses mark the boundaries of the land, and it is easy to see that the front left coordinate is right next to the river area. It is also interesting that the concession area under the crosses indicates a different location from the one above, which is drawn in the spatial plan of the City of Mostar according to the Institute for Spatial Planning.

The competent inspections could certainly have their hands full here, since parts of the quarry, such as access roads and roads to the quarry, are outside the concession permit, as can be seen behind the coordinates below in the photo.

Inspections are on the ground

As we learn, all available inspections from the Cantonal Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry are on Bijela site in the northern part of Mostar, and the Prosecutor's Office of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton as well as the Federation Prosecutor's Office, have been also involved in the case.

“Regarding the incident that occurred on April 6, 2024 at site Bijela near Mostar, at the “Bijela” quarry, we inform you that the Ministry of Economy, through the competent cantonal mining inspection, is investigating all the circumstances that led to the accident. We have been informed that the competent cantonal inspectorates for the environment and water management are determining the factual situation, each within the framework of their jurisdiction. Once all the circumstances have been determined, the Ministry will promptly inform the public about the findings, and take all actions and measures prescribed by law”, reads the answer of the Ministry of Economy of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton to hercegovina.info.

Experts are concerned

“It will greatly affect the fish and animal stock, since a large part of the hill has collapsed and now we actually have a section blocked off, a physical barrier that makes it impossible for fish to move in that area. Such quarries should never be built near rivers and lakes, literally in the bed, and that is a big problem. This can never be returned to its original state. Stone can now be taken out of the lake with cranes and excavators, trucks, but the ecosystem is permanently damaged and cannot be returned to the way it was before. I'm not talking only about the fish, but also about the other organisms that live there”, said for hercegovina.info Sanel Riđanović, professor of ecology and zoology at the University of Džemal Bijedić from Mostar, who believes that there is a great danger of new landslides because soil erosion is caused by the destruction of vegetation, that is, the root system that holds the soil.

We contacted HP Investing and we were interested in whether they mined the quarry in Bijela according to the regulations, whether HP Investing is obliged to compensate the damage for the destroyed vehicles, whether HP Investing will clear the stones in the river and how much they are obliged to pay for the resulting damage according to the concession contract, but we haven’t received any answer by the time this article was published.