File Kriva Palanka
The people from Uzem drink suspicious water as they have no money to connect to the new waterworks
- The malfunctioning of new waterworks was the reason why Kriva Palanka got warning from the donors that the municipality would be excluded from future projects
-The possible water pollution from Toranica mine was the reason why new waterworks was built for these people, but the poverty made them refuse to connect to the system
Former miner in Toranica, Dragi Kitanovski, for fifteen years lives in the woods near the location Varosani, where the residue of lead-zinc ore was disposed for years. He drinks water with suspicious quality from an old waterworks, although he claims the water is regularly checked. Just as his neighbors from Uzem village, he has no money to connect to the new waterworks with clean water from the springs above the mine. The danger of water pollution from Toranica mine was the reason why new water supply system was built for these people, in order to meet their needs, but as they have no resources they gave up the idea of connecting to the new system. For them it is better to drink the water from village wells and mountainous springs, although the officials warn it might be polluted from the mine.
The malfunctioning of new waterworks, built a year ago, was the reason why the donors threatened to Kriva Palanka that the municipality will not be included in their future projects. They were warned of being placed on the black list of municipalities prepared by the donors, an issue widely discussed in the public. The observers say this move of the donors becomes more evident with their behavior towards the municipalities, which proved as unsuccessful in managing the projects. Therefore, they redirect the money from less to more successful municipalities.
Out of 300 people in Uzem, the donors received information that only nine families have connected to the new system worth over 100,000 euros for the villages Uzem and Zidilovo. The system was funded by the Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation and funds from the German SIP 3 program. It includes intake structure at the springs and main pipeline to Zidilovo village. Although the new system was ready in December 2005, it is not fully operational because the people have no money for connection. The connection fee is 10,000 denars.
Kitanovski is one of them. "It is way too expensive to connect to the system. I am jobless for ten years and I do not have conditions to connect, although I am interested. For the time being I’m connected to the old waterworks and I drink the water,” he says. Although he says the water is regularly examined, he points out the threat from Varosani ore disposal, which is right above the village. “Mine Toranica is not working for a long tome, but the ore disposal dump Varosani, where the wastewaters are collected, pollutes the land near the village. During a storm, there is a dust all over, which sticks to the fruits and vegetables. Now, we cannot pick the plums, pears or apples, because the trees are damaged," Kitanovski says.
Ore disposal dump is now deserted, but it is still frightening. The blue-grayish color from the layers of lead and zinc has spread to the nearby trees. The residents say this is like a quicksand and avoid walking around. They are afraid that the dam, which prevents the landslide is not safe, because it is made of the same material as the ore disposal dump and may collapse any minute. The fear is raised by the thoughts of reopening the mine, as there is a danger of landslide which could wipe off the village.
All 90 houses from Uzem have submitted request for connecting to the new system, but after finding out the price of the connection fee they have given up. Someone warned the local authorities that they are being deceived and the real costs are 3,000 denars per connection. Only the wealthier people, whose children work abroad, accepted this price. “We decided to connect, the children work abroad and they paid for the connection. Although we also use the water from springs, fountains and wells. We have not felt that the water is being polluted. We regularly test it,” says Blagoja Stoilkovski from Uzem. His neighbor, Zvonko Stojkovski says, “The municipality lied to us that we will get free connection. They now ask for 10,500 denars. But the people have no money; we live in a poor area. Dragi Cvetanovski from Zidilovo, has the same problems as he also has to connect to the new waterworks. He says the people had more money when they worked as miners in Toranica, and now they can hardly make ends meet. “I have water from village waterworks built twenty years ago. Now, they want 10,000 denars for connection. They want to take our money and deceive us. We do not have that amount of money,” says Cvetanovski.
Zoran Pavlovski, head of the Unit of construction and maintenance of communal infrastructure in Kriva Palanka municipality says that until month and a half ago, their municipality was not ranked on the black list. The problem emerged with the third project realized through the SIP program – water supply of Uzem and Zidilovo. “The main motive why the foreigners decided to invest was the ore disposal dump that polluted the springs. The analyses showed that there were certain quantities of lead and zinc in the springs. This is why the donors decided to build waterworks that will get water from the springs above the ore disposal dump,” Pavlovski says.
He confirms the donors have the right to be angry because despite the warnings the municipality or the utility company has not realized the obligation for building the secondary network amounting to 20,000 euros and the villagers were supposed to pay for the connections. “The secondary network should have been finalized in June, but the construction works are still underway. Only 1,000 meters have been finished and 3,000 meters remain to be built. By that period around 60 households should have been connected. However, they did not want to pay the connection fee so the project is delayed,” says Pavlovski. He says they agreed the price of 10,500 denars as average price although realistically everyone should pay depending on the distance from the main trunk.