“If this continues, everything will be flooded, the village with everyone who has lived here for generations. The village will disappear.” Under the fruit trees in his garden, Demir Murataj paints a grim picture of the future. His village Kutë is located a few hundred meters from the Vjosa. One of the dams is planned a little downstream. When it is built, Kutë will end up at the bottom of a reservoir.
It hurts Murataj that the government never came into contact with the plan to turn the Vjosa into a huge power producer, with eight large dams in the river itself and another 30 smaller ones in its tributaries. “They didn’t say they wanted to build a dam here and they didn’t ask us for anything,” he said. “They humiliated us.”
In the capital Tirana, lawyer Elvana Tivari Marataj confirms the complaint that the government never informed the villagers involved, even though Albanian law requires it. And there is something else too. “There has been no proper planning process and no study on how the plans fit into the country’s sustainable development, agriculture, tourism and the lives of people living on the river.”
Along with a group of other lawyers, Tivari has filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of dozens of residents of the Vjosa Basin. At first, they won it. Construction work is now at a standstill. But the state appealed. We are now awaiting the Supreme Court ruling.