Ecological uprising

work in progress

Project “Ecological Uprising”  shows the damaging effects of environmental destruction, its impact on the livelihoods and lives of people, as well the struggle of ecological activists and citizens for defending the endangered environment in Serbia. The ecological movement in Serbia has been constantly growing and gaining citizens’ support in the last few years due to systematic government investor-friendly policies that are detrimental to the environment. Such policies have also had a negative impact not only on public health, but also on livelihoods in various local communities. Due to lower environmental standards and heavy government subsidies, Serbia has become particularly attractive for companies that transfer their environmentally detrimental technologies. As a consequence, Serbia has become one of the most polluted countries, potentially also threatening environmentally its neighbours. 

In Serbia, the most serious problem is the air pollution due to which Serbia tops the European black list of the annual number of deaths due to respiratory illnesses. Some of the major air polluters are coal power plants (such as TP Nikola Tesla in Kostolac), steel plant (Hesteel Serbia), coal mine (Serbia Zijin Copper Mine), and tyre factory (Shandong Linglong) all owned by the Chinese, as well as households using cheap, low quality lignite which do not meet the existing environmental standards, but are allowed by corrupt authorities to be sold in the market. 

Speaking of water resources, they have been mostly endangered by the existing and planned construction affecting the drinking water supply sources, as well as by constructing hundreds of mini hydro power plants on rivers and mountain streams, which literally means to put rivers into pipes. In addition, the ecological catastrophe threatens to completely destroy one of the most beautiful rivers in the region, Drina, which in its course every now and then becomes a huge garbage dump. Although this problem was the topic of discussion at the highest levels of the three neighboring countries of BiH, Serbia and Montenegro, to date no quality solutions have been found. 

Last, but not least, the soil pollution that would also affect water, has become increasingly important after the recent announcement that Rio Tinto will operate a lithium mine in Western Serbia. This announcement immediately mobilized environmental activists not only from that region, but also from other parts of the country.

Železara in Smederevo town, owned by Chinese company HBIS GROUP Serbia Iron & Steel company, fails to introduce measures to avoid air pollution and other damaging effects. There were days when the particulate matter which damages the heart and lungs, the so-called PM10 particles, reached levels up to seven times higher than permitted. These are the official data of the Serbian Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

On December 29th, 2020 the protest was held against the implementation of a large urbanisation project in the area Makisko polje on the outskirts of the city which could endanger Belgrade's largest source of drinking water supply which is located there. The protest took place before the session of the Belgrade City Assembly which put the approval of this project on the agenda applying urgent procedure.