Hydroelectric projects on Vrbas River, BiH

The biggest successful environmental campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina to date. Started in late 2004 and was active until late 2005, when campaign was backed up by local parliament decision.


Government of Republic of Srpska (RS) in 2004 planned to make 2 hydro power plants (HPP) on Vrbas River, 15 and 25 kilometres upstream of Banja Luka. Public got information in late October 2004, about 5 days before Parliament of RS had to take decision on the project. Few NGOs decided to inform the public about possible impacts and in 3 days managed to collect more than 5500 signatures of Banja Luka citizens, with the goal to postpone Parliament's decision, but without success. In November 2004, the Government signed the concession contract with company HES Vrbas. In the same time, about 10 local NGOs established Coalition for Vrbas River Protection, that grew up to 36 NGOs in 2005. Soon after the contract was signed, the Coalition started to collect signatures for local referendum on this issue, and managed to reach almost 20 000 signatures in city of about 200 000 inhabitants. This was enough to push the Parliament of Banja Luka to take position against the projects in 2005. After that, both Government of RS and the company HES Vrbas withdrew their plans, as people and local government spoke against the project.

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Basic Data
NameHydroelectric projects on Vrbas River, BiH
CountryBosnia and Herzegovina
ProvinceRepublic of Srpska
SiteBanja Luka
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsTwo HPPs

1. HPP Krupa:

- dam hight - 29 m

- installed capacity - 48,5 MW

- average annual production - 140 GWh

- accumulation volume - 78.700.000 cubic meters

2. HPP Banja Luka niska:

- dam hight - 36,4 m

- installed capacity - 37,2 MW

- average annual production - 186,9 GWh

- accumulation volume - 115.000.000 cubic meters
Level of Investment (in USD)187,017,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population5000 - 250 000
Start Date01/11/2004
End Date29/09/2015
Company Names or State EnterprisesHES Vrbas from Slovenia
Gradjevinar from Serbia
Viaduct from Slovenia
Relevant government actorsParliament of Republic of Srpska, Government of Republic of Srpska, Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining, Ministry of Spatial Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology
International and Financial InstitutionsMBB UWS Energy GmbH (MBB) from Germany
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCentar za zivotnu sredinu / Friends of the Earth Bosnia and Herzegovina (and Coalition for Vrbas River Protection, that includes more than 30 NGOs from Banja Luka).
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Other Health impacts
Otherhealth impacts of respiratory system
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseStrengthening of participation
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Development of AlternativesCoalition for Vrbas River Protection before the agreement was signed proposed to be made comprehensive analysis of all potential of Vrbas River canyons, that were planed to be flooded. Proposal was to assess potentials other than energy, including tourism, water supply, biodiversity services, etc.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.We consider this as en environmental justice success to a large extent, although public participation tools are still not functional and the compensation request of the company is still under evaluation.
Sources and Materials

Hydro Power Potential in the Sava River Basin, Prepared by Milica Djuric-ICPDR Secretariat
[click to view]


HEW VRBAS Company's page on the project
[click to view]

The ‘Blue Heart of Europe’ beats in the Balkans, by Amelie Huber (ENTITLE BLOG)
[click to view]

Vrbas River Canyon is safe – what to do next?
[click to view]

Balkanrivers.net (Euronatur and RIverswatch), Outstanding Balkan River landscapes – a basis for wise development decisions
[click to view]

Victory against big hydro in Bosnia and Herzegovina
[click to view]

Media Links

Fiumi di Bosnia: la Vrbas (with English subtitles)
[click to view]

Other Documents

Canyon of Vrbas river
[click to view]

Street march for free flowing Vrbas
[click to view]

Meta Information
Contributormiodrag dakic, Centar za zivotnu sredinu, [email protected], +387 51 433 142
Last update19/10/2015