Rovni Dam at the Jablanica River, Serbia

Despite the protest from local people, the Valjevska Gračanica monastery have been submerged as result of the construction of the Rovni dam.

In 1989 the government of ex-Yugoslavia made a project of construction of the Rovni dam on the river Jablanica, located 12km southwest from town Valjevo. The idea of the project was accumulating water to be used in new thermal power plant of Mining Basin Kolubara (has not been constructed yet), as well as source of potable water for municipalities of Valjevo and Lazarevac. The project was stopped in the 1990's due to economic sanctions, while the dam was constructed 20 years later by the Serbian government. Currently, only the final step of the project is missing- filling up the reservoir. In 1990’s local scientist organized public hearings, conferences, and published scientific articles and books. The main arguments against the project were that the dam was planned on the land area with potential seismic activity, as well as the fact that due to an inadequate height of the dam the water from the reservoir would contaminate the local underground water sources. Only after one dam construction worker died and two got injured, in 2008, the municipal government of Valjevo asked national government to reconsider the dam construction plan. Besides other impacts, the reservoir threatened to submerge the local orthodox church "Valjevska Gračanica" originating from the 14th century and the old cemetery, both under state protection for its cultural values. This has mobilized two religious groups “Istinoljublje” and “Gračanica”. They organized several protests, during which its leader, the local church monk, got arrested and charged with attacks on police and archaeologists. In 2010, in order to give it more importance, the church was proclaimed a monastery, while local politicians demanded elaboration of an environmental impact assessment study. Petition to reduce the dam height signed by 32,600 people was handed in to the Serbian government in September 2012 during the street march jointly organized by citizens, scientists and religious groups. Despite of the local church officials’ disapproval, the dam constructors called on the agreements from 1980 and 2002 signed among the Serbian Orthodox church and Serbian government which allowed for the submersion of the existing local church in exchange to new church that was built in 2009. The Institute for Cultural Heritage, based on the result of the archaeological studies which showed that the church was too fragile to be relocated, rejected to approve the relocation which cause a delay in the dam construction. After the big floods in Serbia in May 2014, the constructors claimed that the dam helped in reducing the flood wave threatening the town of Valjevo.  A test filling of the accumulation 'Rovni' began in November 2015. The total capacity of accumulation is still to be decided by the state commission. However, in March 2016 the water level reached the Valjevska Gračanica monastery. The religious group organised several protests in the city of Valjevo and in front of the National Government building in Belgrade. Director of public company "Kolubara" has explained that only one third of the estimated capacity of the accumulation is currently filled and that submersion of the monastery has occurred due to the heavy rains.
Basic Data
NameRovni Dam at the Jablanica River, Serbia
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Thermal power plants
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
The dam's height is 75 m.
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Project Area (in hectares)320
Level of Investment (in USD)96,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population200,000
Start Date1989
Company Names or State EnterprisesJP Kolubara Valjevo from Serbia - The project investor
Energoprojekt Hidroinzenjering Consulting Engineers Co. Ltd from Serbia - The project idea
EKO VODO PROJEKT from Serbia - The project idea
The Jaroslav Černi Institute for the Development of Water Resources (JCI) from Serbia - The project idea and supervision
Hidroehnika-Hidroenergetika A.D. from Serbia - Responsible for construction
Geosonda – Konsolidacije from Serbia - Responsible for construction
MP Velika Morava DOO Beograd from Serbia - Costruction supervison
Relevant government actorsThe Government of Republic of Serbia; The Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Republic of Serbia; The Municipal government of Valjevo
International and Financial InstitutionsEU IPA funds - Funding part of the project for municipal water supply
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEkoloski pokret Srbije; Religious civil associations ‘Istinoljublje’ and ‘Gračanica’
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Infectious diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Development of AlternativesThe scientists, municipal government, and religious group suggested a reduction of the dam height for 30-35m to lower the risks of the cracking, which would save the local church from submerging, as well as prevent the possible intrusion of the accumulation water into the underground water sources. The mobilized groups suggested a local referendum to decide on the issue.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project opponents' proposals to change the height of the dam was not accepted and the construction continued according to the previous plans including a test accumulation filling which resulted in submersion of the Valjevska Gračanica monastery.
Sources and Materials

Petrovic D., Dokanovic P. (2009) ‘Negativni ekoloski aspekti izgradnje brane i akumulacije ‘Rovni’’. Zastita Prirode 1-2, 539-548.
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Smrtonosna brana iznad Valjeva
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Nastavlja se bitka za kotu 333
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Valjevo traži preispitivanje odluke o izgradnji brane Rovni
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Episkop SPC traži prekid radova na brani kod Valjeva
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Brana će zagaditi izvore pitke vode
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Jezero kao bomba
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Protiv potapanja „valjevske Gračanice“
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"Kolubara": Valjevska Gračanica biće potopljena
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Pravoslavna macola
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Gradjani odlucuju o brani
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Počinju radovi na brani Rovni
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Rukama otkopavali zatrpane radnike
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Peticija za spas „valjevske Gračanice”
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Uticaj brane na životnu sredinu
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Raspop zaustavio izmeštanje crkve
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Vernici ikonama pokušali da zaustave drvoseče
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U Valjevu uhapšen raščinjeni monah zbog napada na policiju
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Uhapšen raščinjeni monah Antonije
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Arheolozi pod pratnjom policije
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Investitori brane i jezera Rovni odlučili - Gračanica će biti potopljena
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Peticija protiv potapanja valjevske Gračanice
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Nastavljena bitka za Gračanicu
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Desničari protestuju u Valjevu: Veštačko jezero će nam potopiti Gračanicu
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Brana “Rovni“ ekološka pretnja?
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Sprečiti ekološki haos
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Zaustavljeni radovi oko Valjevske Gračanice
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Da li je Rovni pomogla ili odmogla?
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Pozvani i nepozvani
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Sačuvati manastir i zdravu vodu
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Marsirali cetnici I kozaci: U odbrani svetinje Nemanjića Gračanice i valjevskih izvora!
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Episkop Milutin protiv konzervacije “Valjevske Gračanice”
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Blog of ‘Istinoljublje’ (English):
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Protest in Valjevo
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Submersion of the Valjevska Gračanica monastery
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Explanation by the director of public company "Kolubara"
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Protest in Valjevo
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On the start of accumulation filling
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Media Links

Protest in front of the local church (Serbian)
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Dam Rovni
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Akumulacija Rovni promasaj ili potreba
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Protest (Serbian)
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Ugrozena izgradnja brane rovni
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Konferencija za medije – Akumulacija Rovni
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Brana Rovni – pokusaj ubistva
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Da li je brana Rovni spasila Valjevo?
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Photo album: Damn Rovni
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Other Documents

Holy hammer against the dam The Orthodox Christian monk and leader of religios association demolishing pillars of the dam station
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Religious groups against the dam The religious group from Valjevo during the protest
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Valjevska Gračanica under water The test filling of the accumulation 'Rovni' that started in November 2015 have submerged the Valjevska Gračanica monastery
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Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)
Last update07/04/2016