GB No. 4, spring 1991
The Ministry of Envitonment expains that building must continue, since it's 80% complete. Yet communism was 99% complete, and we're given up on that".
- Wojtek Kłosowski
on POL-EKO conference
In GB 3 we wrote extensively about the construction of "the Balaton lake of the Pieniny" - a water reservoir on the upper River Dunajec at the edge of the Pieniny National Park, and about action taken against the project. The articles were received with interest and offers of help leg Alexander Zinke of WWF suggested international action and linking the 'Czorsztyn Sea' affair to the Ecological Bricks for our Common House of Europe programme; the Annual General Meeting of FOE-I wrote to the Polish authorities, protesting against the project). Now I'll try to show you what has happened in the Pieniny since the vacation.
Most importantly, since the vacation, blockades organized by the Anarchist Federation (FA), the Freedom and Peace movement (WiP), and supported by, among others, the eco-peace movement "I prefer to be..." (Wb) there has been a marked increase in the speed of construction! Besides that, on 18.09.90 legal permission was granted to build the reservoir. So, far several years the project had not been legal. Legalization of work begun by Communists was achieved by a solidarity - led administration, which this summer, against peacefully demonstrating ecologists, sent police units, each comprising a few hundred officers drawn from the whole of southern Poland, an antiterrorist brigade, and a vehicle to smash barricades (the only barricades raised in Czorsztyn at that time were built from demonstrators' bodies!).
Opponents of the dam tried in vain to get hold of a recently compiled report by Prof. Antoni Kleczkowski, entitled: "A Programme to save the natural environment threatened by the construction of the dam in Czorsztyn". This report was commissioned 18 months ago by the ecological group of the Round Table (hence by social forces!). The problem was, one of the few copies was in the hands of the investor, Mr. Łagosz (chief of the Regional Headoffice of Water Management). They finally managed to obtain a copy from another source.
On 7.02.91 the FA, WiP and Wb organized a sit-in at the investor's headquarters in Kraków. Despite this halting work in the office and preventing the choice of firm to carry out demolition work in the flood bowl, the police did not intervene and the attitude of the press was favourable!
Before that, our petition collected several thousand signatures; the demands were published in the preceding issue of GB, but obviously nobody took any notice.
Opponents of the dam wrote to the Chief Board of Supervision (NIK) requesting them to examine the legality of the project; it seems everything is OK. More remarkably, however, the supposedly impartial and competent Board uses arguments that even the investors dare no longer use in discussions with protesters.
They try to ignore the opponents; for example, during the last blockade of the investor's building, a leaflet was delivered to us, suggesting that we don't let ourselves be manipulated (we're young and inexperienced), and that we concerned ourselves with real problems. etc.
There is however a glimmer of hope: the previously inflexible Ministry for Environment Protection (which is financing the dam! In Poland MEP has the responsibility for water management and therefore the quality of rivers and marshes, and construction in those places) has started to mumble about the possibility of discussing the reservoir. The new minister Maciej Nowicki himself spoke of it during his questioning by the Sejm, when the new government was formed, after Mazowiecki's defeat; he confirmed it at the All-Polish meeting of NGO's in Brwinów. No wonder, unlike the previous minister Kamiński, he is not an expert on water, but on air! A meeting between civil servants at the ministry and representatives of ecologists fighting against the dam has been promised. Nobody knows whether the discussion will produce results, nobody knows who will 'win' the discussion, nobody knows whether the authorities could respect a possible victory of the protesters.
Unfortunately the dam is on a list of centrally - planned investments (it's currently running at a loss - the necessary money for the people, monuments and the park runs into enormous amounts). Attempts to remove the dam from the list have failed; perhaps centrally planned investments are an excellent method of preventing unemployment! And what about local society in Czorsztyn and surrounding area? Bought with promises of building a purification plant for two years, it is more "for" the project, as it expects enormous profits from tourism. A bit like someone wit toothache, who, tortured by pain, is ready to agree to have his whole head cut off.
To remind you: the reservoir is still a long way from completion. It is difficult to say how far, since the dam itself is one thing - flooding could start in a year or two, but the investment that goes with it is another matter entirly: a purification plant, alpinarium, an ethnographic museum from the existing buildings, making the castles on the hills safe, a research center (to examine changes in the environment, linked with the formation of the lake - it is not know what will happened if the changes are for the worse - certainly the Pieniny National Park will have scientific equipment like no other park in Poland - but you can't just flood all the national parks), and so on. As for the progress of the construction, the aforementioned CBS is to evaluate it. According to our estimates the damage to the environment can still be put right. It is hard to say how to much it would cost (and who would pay!) since among many of the reports on Czorsztyn, not one has discussed stopping building and repairing the damage! The philosophy of the Ministry is simple: since so much has been destroyed, building should be completed. To quote Stanisław Zubek (WiP - Kraków) in Brwinów: "For 40 years under the communists, Poland was destroyed, so let's keep on destroying her!!!"
As Marek Styczyński writes, there is a plan to make a plaque with a list of names of people who have distinguished themselves in this long conflict, recognizing their commitment in this, what is, after all, a social matter. Marek suggests putting this plaque under - water. We haven't lost hope that that won't be possible!!!
If you want to help or receive more information about the dam on the Dunajec, write to:
translation Lynn Townsend
Freedom and Peace (WiP) and Anarchist Federation (FA) invite you to an indefinite blockade of the building of the dam in Czorsztyn. The blockade begins 1st July 1991.
Simultaneously, from 1st to 7th July 1991 - (first week in July) the International Ecological Meeting Czorsztyn '91 will take place in Czorsztyn. Meeting is independent of the blockade and will take place even if the government decides to stop the building.