Today, the City Administration of the City of Zrenjanin prevented citizens from participating in the public presentation of the study on the environmental impact assessment of the tire factory construction of the Chinese company Linglong International Europe LLC.
Around 50 citizens and representatives of associations, who submitted comments and suggestions on the environmental impact assessment study, arrived to the public presentation in the city administration building at 11 am, as it had been announced in the public invitation. However, the security prevented citizens from entering the room where the public presentation was being held, with the explanation that a maximum of 30 participants were allowed, and at that time, according to unofficial information, there were already 18 representatives of the company Linglong. At the end, the security announced that only 6 people could enter the room. The police later joined the security.
No one from the city administration or the authorities responsible for conducting the impact assessment procedure addressed the citizens, nor was the public informed in writing about the procedures and intentions of the city administration that are completely non-aligned with the legal framework, only the security, exceeding its authority and knowledge, interpreted the regulations to the citizens and explained them their rights.
According to the information that RERI received from the security service, “According to the law, no more than 30 people can enter the hall.” This probably refers to the Regulation on the Prohibition of Gatherings in the Republic of Serbia in Public Places in Indoor and Open Space, which prohibits the gathering of more than 30 people indoors. However, the city administration was well informed and still scheduled a public presentation at a time when the epidemiological situation did not allow it. Also, the city administration had to know that a large number of citizens will appear because more than 200 comments and suggestions were received in the previous EIA procedure. The EIA procedure contains in the participation of the public in a public presentation, not in groups and at different times, in order to enable each representative of the public to hear the answers of the study developer and the comments and suggestions of each person who appeared at the public presentation. Public authorities are obliged to make this possible. If the conditions for holding a public presentation have not been fulfilled, the city administration had an obligation to postpone the entire procedure, due to the fact that there were no justifiable reasons to conduct the procedure according to the urgent procedure in the case of a commercial project.
RERI will use all available legal tools to hold the responsible authorities accountable for violations of applicable regulations and endangering the rights of the citizens.
We repeat that the greatest danger to the environment in Serbia are not polluters, but corruption and irresponsible authorities.
In the City of Zrenjanin, 4 September 2020.