Ministry of Mining and Energy Created Conditions for the Destruction of Artesian Springs – Zaječar’s Greatest Asset (VIDEO)
The years-long efforts of the Association “Za Drinking Fountains” and the City of Zaječar to legalize and legitimize the artesian fountains in Zaječar as the city’s greatest natural asset have been called into question by the recent decision of the Ministry of Mining and Energy. This decision has endorsed the water reserves at eight springs in the city, categorizing their water as technical water. In this regard, a press conference was held today at the “Za Drinking Fountains” Association as part of the implementation of the “Environmental Response in Timočka Krajina” project funded by the EU and implemented by the Association “Za Drinking Fountains” and partner organizations from Bor and Zaječar.
Representatives of the Association “Za Drinking Fountains” called the press conference to inform the public that not only are these springs not protected, but their fate is jeopardized. For example, any future mining exploration could be approved because, according to this decision, there would be no harm to deep waters since they are declared technical. This has nullified the entire five-year effort to legalize and protect the springs, said Boban Pogarčić, president of the Association “Za Drinking Fountains”:
“Five years ago, the Association “Za Drinking Fountains” and the City of Zaječar entered the process of legalizing artesian springs, and the plan was to protect the entire water source in Zaječar, the city’s greatest treasure – deep drinking water. However, after almost five years of extensive work on drafting reports, research, and the painstaking procedures our city has gone through, the recent decision of the Ministry of Mining and Energy is to certify the underground water reserves at only 8 artesian springs in Zaječar and categorize the water as technical water.”
“The decision is practically illegal,” Pogarčić said, “because the Regulation on the categorization of underground waters does not recognize the category of technical water. The basic three categories are drinking, thermomineral, and mineral. So, by this decision of the Ministry, our artesian waters are classified into a non-existent category.”
In challenging this Decision on the determination and certification of classified reserves of underground waters, the City of Zaječar cannot file an appeal but can initiate proceedings before the Administrative Court. The working group at the City Administration, dealing with artesian springs and recently also with air quality, will meet in the coming days to commence legal analysis and prepare a lawsuit against this Decision.
“What makes this case different from all others in Serbia is that we have a direct partnership with the local government,” said journalist and member of the Association”Za Drinking Fountains”, Dušan Vojvodić.
“The significance of the springs in Zaječar has been recognized by the local government. We have reached the point where a decision to protect the springs as the greatest asset of the City of Zaječar has been voted on. The City of Zaječar has acted responsibly in the previous period and done everything according to the law to place the springs under protection. Unfortunately, it is evident that forces dealing with these interests are above the influence of local government, meaning we are returning to the Ministry of Mining and Energy. This is not the first time we receive decisions that are not in line with reality and common sense. This can be explained in only two ways: either it is corruption, or the individuals who issued this Decision lack business competence. Whether the water from the Zaječar springs is suitable for drinking is so obvious that it should not be debated. We have a history of 100 years of using drinking water and around 30-40 years of measurements and analyses from the Zaječar Institute of Public Health.”
“We are the only city in Europe that has such a treasure, healthy artesian drinking water coming from an aquifer unaffected by the external environment. It is the city’s greatest blessing, which is priceless, and there is no way to compensate for it if we lose it,” concluded the press conference.
This media content was produced within the project “Environmental response to mining expansion in Timočka Krajina” funded by the European Union, and implemented by the Association “Za Drinking Fountains”, the Association of Young Researchers Bor, Civic Library “Europe” Bor and Children’s Center Zaječar. The media content is entirely responsibility of these associations and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.