United Kingdom Ambassador to Serbia Denis Keefe, Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Flood Relief Marko Blagojević and Belgrade Mayor Siniša Mali visited today the site of the reconstruction works at the river of Peštan, executed within the UK Government-funded project for the prevention of floods from the Kolubara Basin rivers. The works within the project commenced in May and so far, reconstruction of dams has been completed at the rivers of Kolubara, Turija and Lukavica.
In order to implement the project, the UK Government provided 1.3 million Euros, while the Office of the Government of Serbia for Reconstruction and Flood Relief supplied 320,000 Euros.
Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Flood Relief Marko Blagojević noted that the reconstruction works had begun three months ago, when "the previous flood-prevention infrastructure lay in ruins" here. "And now, this is an entirely different story - the project will help improve safety in Lazarevac", he said, adding that this especially applied to safety against floods.
"Dams along the Kolubara Basin rivers will be better, stronger and of a higher quality than the old ones", Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Flood Relief Marko Blagojević said.
Blagojević noted that works in the total value of two billion dinars had been executed at 100 sites to strengthen flood defences in the previous 12 months. He added that 19 torrent-check barriers had already been constructed, while works were underway to complete five more.
"This year only we will do more than what was done in the last 20 years altogether. Serbia is now safer than it was last year, but that is still not enough", said Blagojević.
Stressing that the flooding was not the only difficulty Serbia was facing and that a comprehensive and systematic management was required, Blagojević announced that the Law on Disaster Risk Management, which would require local self-governments to prepare action plans, would soon enter the National Assembly procedure. He expressed hope that the new law would be in the Parliament during its regular autumn session.
Belgrade Mayor Siniša Mali said that the completion of the Peštan dam reconstruction in Lazarevac, set for mid-November, would mark the completion of the reconstruction of all Kolubara Basin dams in the municipality of Lazarevac, underlining that Lazarevac and Obrenovac had been the municipalities hit hardest in the last year floods. He also stressed that a lot had been done in the previous days to reconstruct housing units, road infrastructure and dams.
He stated that the dams had already been reconstructed at the rivers of Kolubara, Lukavica and Turija, and that the works had begun today to reconstruct the dam at the river of Peštan. The completion deadline was set for mid-November, which would mark the completion of reconstruction works at the total of 24 dams and barriers on all four rivers in the municipality.
Belgrade Mayor also said that this would bring the feeling of safety and security to all 60,000 citizens of Lazarevac.
Ambassador Keefe noted that the British Government supplied 1.3 million Euros for the project whose objective is to protect the municipality, but also the Kolubara Mining Basin, against floods. He said that the floods damaged 1,300 meters of dams and that the flood wave had disastrous consequences in the municipality, and also in the basin which produced 75% of the total coal consumed in Serbia.
Keefe also said that the total of 24 dams would be reconstructed within the project, "making the protective ring which would be a part of the national flood-prevention network".
Owing to the United Kingdom assistance, the municipality of Lazarevac is already defining the conclusions and lessons learnt in the last year flooding, and also preparing the Flood Prevention Action Plan. Deputy President of the Municipality of Lazarevac Bojan Stević said that all of the project activities were extremely important, not only for the citizens of the municipality of Lazarevac, but also for the maintenance of energy stability in the Kolubara Mining Basin.
The project is implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the Public Water Management Company Beogradvode, in the period from May to November 2015.