Relocation of the Vreoci village, Kolubara coal basin, Serbia

The process of Vreoci village resettlement to give way to the open pits for coal is riddled with many irregularities and causing numerous negative environmental and social impacts.


Description

Vreoci, a village in central Serbia, is located in the Kolubara lignite basin. Kolubara is the center of the Serbian energy sector and has been exploited by the publicly owned company MB Kolubara since 1896, including open pit technology since 1952.

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Basic Data
NameRelocation of the Vreoci village, Kolubara coal basin, Serbia
CountrySerbia
SiteVreoci, Lazarevac
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Coal extraction and processing
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsMB Kolubara lignite basin exploitation area = 133.9 km2, from which 51,4 km2 are used for mining.

The coal is deposited at depth of 20-22m

Kolubara annual production = 29 million tonnes of coal, which represents 75% of Serbia's coal production, and provides for 50-60% of Serbia's total electricity production.

Kolubara lignite basin mines exploitation lifespan = until 2060

MB Kolubara employs 10,000 people, 7,000 of which depend directly on coal exploitation.

The new pits in Vreoci expected annual production = 17-23 million tonnes of lignite, which represents 60-70% of future planned lignite production in the basin.

The Vreoci's graveyard is 300 years old and has 5,000 graves.

Estimated value of coal deposited under the graveyard = 600 million tonnes, enough for the country electricity production for the next 30 years.

1,800 households from the village Vreoci are to be expropriated and relocated

The relocation project is planned to be completed in 2018.
Project Area (in hectares)1,016
Level of Investment (in USD)180,000,000 provided by the national goverment
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population3,210
Start Date1999
Company Names or State EnterprisesMining Basin Kolubara Itd - MB Kolubara lignite basin (RB Kolubara) from Serbia - Mining pit opening and coal exploitation
Relevant government actorsThe Ministry of Energy and Mining of Republic of Serbia; The Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Republic of Serbia; Municipal government of Lazarevac; Local government of Vreoci
International and Financial InstitutionsKfW Development Bank (KfW) from Germany - Provided 80 million USD loan to MB Kolubara for environmental projects
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) - Provided 100 million USD loan to MB Kolubara for environmental projects
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEkolosko udruzenje Vreoci; Centra za ekologiju i održivi razvoj (CEKOR); Ekoloski pokret Novog Sada; Ekoloski pokret Srbije; Ekolosko drustvo Turija; Udruzenje pcelara Buducnost; Organizacija sportskih ribolovaca Pestan; Odred izvidjaca Kolubarac; Udruzenje gradjana Ljubitelji I odgajivaci konja-Kolubara; Udruzenje gradjana Kulturna bastina I rudarsko nasledje; Udruzenje gradjana Nase ognjiste; Lovacko drustvo Fazan; Udruzenje gradjana Vodenicno kolo
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Fishermen
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Recreational users
Beekeepers and hunters
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
OtherIn addition to the relocation of Vreoci, MB Kolubara conducted re-routing of river Kolubara. It is also planned re-routing of other three rivers Pestan, Lukavica and Vranicina. The last re-routing of Kolubara River started in 2013. In floods in Serbia in May 2014, the Kolubara river submerged the village Vreoci and the newly open mine pit, which reduced the coal production for one third. This also resulted in the river Kolubara being returned back to its previous river bed.
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Corruption
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Migration/displacement
Repression
Development of AlternativesThe citizens of Vreoci demanded to be relocated before the graveyard, which would guarantee they would not be left living among mining pits. They also asked for higher compensation and demanded that all households are moved to only one chosen location so as not to break up the village. NGOs requested faster and more socially responsible relocation process.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The process of relocation is ongoing and will be completed in 2018. Many households are still daily exposed to the pollution from the open pits, while those relocated are not satisfied with the new location.
Sources and Materials
References

EBRD support for Kolubara paving the “ash way” for development of Serbia
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CEKOR's compliant letter to EBRD
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Report on the involuntarily resettlement activities in the Kolubara Lignite Basin
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KOLUBARA: PCM COMPLIANCE REVIEW (EBRD)
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Saopštenje za javnost: EBRD priznao greške sa EPSom
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A clear and present danger. How financial institutions and authorities have failed to address the human impacts of resettlement in Serbia's lignite mining fields
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Links

EPS KOLUBARA ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
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EBRD support for Kolubara paving the “ash way” for development of Serbia
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RB „Kolubara“ zbog kopova menja geografiju
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Priprema se izmeštanje dela korita Kolubare
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Meštani protiv izmeštanja groblja zbog basena Kolubare
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Vreočani: Radikalizacija protesta zbog Kolubare
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Vreoci, Savet mesne zajednice - Rušenje kapele
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Protest Vreočana uz sveće
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Vreoci: Pozlilo štrajkaču glađu
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Serbia's unabated quest for coal causes tremors among mining communities
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Environmental and social controversies of Kolubara environmental improvement project
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The reality of resettlement in Kolubara, Serbia: Out of the frying pan into the fire
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Hunger strike begins in protest of cemetery removal at EBRD coal mine in Serbia
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EU urged not to fund coal mine project in Serbia
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Kolubara lignite mine, Serbia
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Complaint of Ekoloski centar Novog Sada to EBDR
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Letter from the local community in the Serbian town Vreoci to the EBRD
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The request for the suspension of the credit arrangement with energy company IC MB "Kolubara" for ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT IN KOLUBARA MINING BASIN
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Vreoci čekaju preseljenje
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Dulić: Ili Vreoci ili nema struje
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Ekologija-Mesna zajednica Vreoci
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Za uvoz struje dato 3,4 miliona evra
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EPS kupuje zemlju u Vreocima
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Počela eksproprijacija zemljišta u Vreocima
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Eksproprijacija i nova ulaganja od vitalnog značaja
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Vlada: Vreoci će ipak biti iseljeni
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Kolubaru čeka 750 mil. EUR ulaganja
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Predsednik MZ Vreoci prekinuo štrajk glađu
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ZAPIS SADA ČUVA NOVO VREOČKO GROBLJE
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Potraga za ugljem ugrožava ljude
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Strajkuje gladju ispred groblja
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Pоčela proizvodnja uglja u zoni vreočkog groblja
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Prekinuti iseljavanje kod Kolubare
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Preseljeno vreočko groblje za potrebe kopova "Kolubare"
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Užas u Lazarevcu: Kuće poplavljene, prodavnice opustošene! Postrojenje "Kolubare" pod vodom!
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Re-settling Vreoci
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Vreoci ko Monte Karlo!
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RB "Kolubara" omogućila prijavu korupcije na svom sajtu
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MB Kolubara online application for anonymous corruption report
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Tomić oslobođen optužbi za "malu Kolubaru"
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Sutra počinje suđenje Draganu Tomiću
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Kolubara:Sutra saslušanje uhapšenih
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INTERVJU - MILORAD GRČIĆ: Iskorenili smo krađu i korupciju u Kolubari!
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Kolubara mine "mired in crime and corruption"
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Kolubarski lavirint (on corruption in Kolubara)
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Budućnost je crna: Hvali sunce, drži se uglja
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When environmental improvement becomes resettlement - lessons from Serbia's Kolubara mine
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THE BALKANS ARE GIVING CLIMATE CHANGE THE FINGER
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EBRD priznao greške sa EPS-om
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Izveštaj o praksi preseljavanja domaćinstava u Kolubarskom lignitskom basenu
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Usaglašavanje oko nove dinamike preseljenja MZ Vreoci

19 APRIL 2016
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Media Links

Lignite locked
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Vreoci cekaju preseljenje-konferencija
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Vreoci, Savet mesne zajednice - Konferencija za novinare
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Vreoci kao Monte Karlo na proveri
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Protest u Beogradu
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Rusenje kapele u Vreocima
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Relocation and regulation of the river Kolubara
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Open pits in Kolubara mining basin map
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Photo album
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Sideshow: Resettlement issues at the Kolubara lignite mine in Serbia
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Vreoci: Kuće počele naglo da pucaju
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Other Documents

Police patrols at the Vreoci's graveyard The Vreoci graveyard was relocated without the local community consent and under continuous police presence.
[click to view]

Protest in front of the EBDR office in Belgrade The citizens of Vreoci supported by the NGO Ekoloski pokret Srbije protesting in front of the EBRD in Belgrade, July 2011
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Electricity or households The village of Vreoci is getting surrounded by the MB Kolubara's open mining pits
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)gmail.com
Last update27/04/2016
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