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Illegal landfill in Martinaj village-Plav Gucinje, Montenegro


With decision no. 0301­28/4, the municipal assembly of Plav on 23 November 2012 began determining the location to dump waste in the municipality of Plav. According to the official sheet that defines the spatial surfaces, cadastral parcels was No. 80, KO DOSUGJE II, no. 1/1/1, with 213,000 m2 of space. In fact, the actual location of the open landfill belongs to the village Martinaj space, parcel no. 900, Martinais 1, with a surface of 479,011 (twice as big). This proves misuse of the official cadastral Office and deception of the citizens for the construction of an illegitimate landfill with invalid documentation.

This open garbage dump is located in the historical site of Kodra Jerina, the historical headquarters of the Illyrian Empire in III and IV century BC. At this spot the resistance against the Ottoman Empire in defense of Albanian Christianity started in 1710. Locating a landfill here thus constitutes a grave violation of the laws for the protection of the cultural heritage of minorities.

The landfill is also located close to water wells of householda of one of the neighborhoods of Martinaj village. All this flow into the river Luca, the collector of all waters of Plav, which lies 380 meters from this open landfill waste. The risk of unforeseen consequences increases due to the current composition of the limestone soil, which allows the seepage of fluids into the ground, without any separation or categorization.

With the formation of the Council for the Prevention of landfill, formal complaints were directed at all relevant local, governmental, regional and international institutions. Ignored by all they then led mass to the protests, with pamphlets, appeals, including putting a live wall with their bodies in front from trucks.

Road blockades by citizens protesting the landfill were crushed with the force of Montenegrin police and led to the arrests of protesters. Naim Prelvukaj­coordinator of the Council for the Prevention of landfill was arrested twice, and also physically mistreated. Jevrem Berkovic, a Montenegrin academician who is known as the founder of the Montenegrin state has spoken out against his arrest.

Yet despite this, the dump was opened in November 2013.

The ecosystem, which is a natural beauty, is choking on garbage and with the advent of warmer seasons are causing an unbearable odor and are providing the risk of viral diseases of birds, wild animals, unprotected animals, insects.

This open landfill was imposed against the will of the community which requires to live in a clean environment and to protect the lungs of their children from poisoning caused by this open garbage dump, far below any European normal standards.

The unilateral decision of the municipal assembly of Plav to open the landfill contradicts the will of the local community, the Law on Waste Management, the Strategy for Waste Management and the Law on Environmental Protection, while the falsified documentation on the location violates all laws of the Montenegro state. Trying to cover a heritage zone for an ethnicity contradicts the Law on Protection of Rights and Freedoms, in this case the original Albanian minority. Opening a waste dump closed to the residential area goes against the will of the community and is in contravention of European Union integration procedures of Montenegro. Moreover, waste collection on the ruins of an ancient Ilirian city in Plav Gucia which is known as a natural pearl of the Balkans, goes contrary to the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage Apart from Naim Prelvukaj, other activists have been arrested during the mobilizations. Their names are: Xhevat Lecaj, Zeqir Hasanxhekaj, Miftar Balidemaj, Milivoje Vucelic, Naser Prelvukaj, Luan Balidemaj, Mustafe Balidemaj, Luan Balidemaj , Isa Prelvukaj, Sadik Hasanxhekaj, Isnije Hasanxhekaj, Haxhe Kukaj, Xhemajl Kukaj, Edona Xheka, Hasan Balidemaj,Isni Balidemaj, Bujar Hasanxhekaj, Ylber Hasanxhekaj, Zeqir Hasangjekaj, Mustaf Balidemaj, Bali Hasanxhekaj, Genc kukaj, Naser Kukaj, safeta Kadriq, Hasan Prelvukaj, salih Hasanxhekaj, Agim Hasanxhekaj, Gezim Balidemaj, Hasan Lecaj,Feriz Prelvukaj, Shefqet Balidemaj dhe Sadik Kukaj.

On 18 th August 2014, Naim Prelvukaj was arrested for the thirds time and stayed in jail for 11 days in Bjello Polje, because of his engagement in the protection of rights to healthy environment and his resistance to waste trucks which aimed to be sent to the Kodra Jerina. Even after his release, Naim is still suffering hearth arrhythmia problems due to the chock and the treatment he received.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Illegal landfill in Martinaj village-Plav Gucinje, Montenegro
State or province:Plav-Gucinje in Montenegro
Location of conflict:Martinaj-Plav Gucinje municipality
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Industrial waste

Project Details and Actors

Project details

According to activists, the garbage dump includes all types of waste such as: strong base material substances originating from industry, organic waste, the materials of iron plasma bags, sanitary, metal, wood, organic bones, feces, containers of herbicides, etc. risking serious environmental pollution.

There is no official information about the quantity of waste dumped or operating costs.

In one form or another 10 thousand inhabitants are affected, while most endangered are villages: Martinaj, Dosudje, Zagraje, Hakaj, Kukaj, Cherry, Krusevo choline, Gusija, turned, Grncar, Vojno Selo and from the gases that are released, the Plav municipality itself.

Mixed population of rural and urban, nation: Albanian, Boshnjak, Montenegrin.

Project area:Surface 479,011 m2, Kodra Jerina-Martinaj, Zone 1
Level of Investment:No data available
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:Up to 10,000
Start of the conflict:11/2012
Company names or state enterprises: Ndermarrja Komunale Publike dhe per Ceshtje Banesore from Montenegro
Ndermarrja per Perpunimin e Drurit DOO Alpet from Montenegro
Relevant government actors:Municipality of Plav; Montenegro Police; Ministry of Health of Republic of Montenegro; Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Republic of Montenegro; Ministry for Spatial Planning and Environment of Republic of Montenegro; Environmental Protection Agency of Republic of Montenegro; Committee on Tourism, Agriculture and Environment of Republic of Montenegro.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Environmentally responsible Action Group, community and the engaged media.

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Albanian ethnic miniority, Albanians in the diaspora
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires
Health ImpactsVisible: Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Other Health impactsPsychological violence and heavy stress for the activists cause health impacts like heart arrhythmia and anxiety.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts, Militarization and increased police presence
Other socio-economic impactsDesecration of cultural heritage


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Development of alternatives:The Committee against the landfill has appealed to all relevant institutions to prevent any further waste landfilling on the Kodra Jerina and to find another location where a modern sanitary landfill with an appropriate center for the treatment and recycling of waste can be built.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:We consider as a success only the fact that we have succeeded to inform public opinion about the current situation in Martinaj. But, we du not consider it as a success for the fact that in a country where the law is not respected, where the primary interest is the individual and not the State and citizen, where the will of the comunity is and violated his rights are breached by clans, groups an individuals, any citizen initiative can not be successfully in the case that this iniciative conflicts with their interests. We do not consider our steps as successful about the fact that these clans are related in to government corruption, and with falsified documents and mounted processes are violating the will of its citizens and are using the power of the majority over the minority, trampling fundamental human rights, for clean air, water and environment. And the future will show if this will be an environmental justice success for our community.

Sources & Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Në Martinaj, arrestohet Naim Prelvukaj

Pas intervenimit te policisë,Malesoret kerkojnë ndihmë nga Tirana dhe Prishtina(video)


Martinaj: Mbeturinat nga Berani okupojnë Kodrën e Jerinës


Banorët e Martinajve të Plavës kundërshtojnë deponinë mbi fshat (video)

Other comments:In one form or the other over 10 thousand inhabitants are affected by the waste landfill pollution, and the villages mostly affected are: Martinaj, Dosudje, Zagraje, Hakaj, Kukaj, Cherry, Krusevo choline, Gusija, turned, Grncar, Vojno Selo and the Plav municipality itself.

Meta information

Contributor:Council for the Prevention of Construction of the Lanfill in Martinaj Naim Ujkan Prelvukaj-Martini, Coordinator. Email: [email protected]:00382/69-744-964 & 00386/49-723-888. Martinaj, Plave Gucinje, Montenegro
Last update10/09/2014



Kodra Jerina


Smoke by the dump in Martinaj