Monday, 14 March 2016

51st Sitting of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee

At the sitting held on 14 March, the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee reviewed the situation concerning the natural disasters that struck the Republic of Serbia i.e. the floods.

The Chairman of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee Marijan Risticevic said that the Committee had started the fight against catastrophic floods in May 2014 and ends its mandate in much the same way, facing the same challenge Serbia had to face two years ago. Risticevic said that the consequences of the floods have been forestalled, which is the result of intense efforts and the fact that the floods are not as devastating as two years ago. Risticevic opined that in order to construct water management facilities and control the waterways, the economy in the country needs to be strengthened.

Minister of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Prof. Dr Snezana Bogosavljevic Boskovic said that the infrastructure, households and agriculture suffered the most damage, adding that it does not compare with the disasters of two years ago and that the biggest challenge is posed by the devastating flash floods which caused the most damage. Bogosavljevic Boskovic said that in the field she was met with understanding by the entrepreneurs who want to be included in the flood defence system, adding that according to unofficial data more than 6000ha of land has been flooded, most of it in Arilje where 80% of raspberry fields suffered from the floods, in Lucani where arable fields suffered the most damage, and Kraljevo, Trstenik and Vrnjacka Banja where damage was mostly suffered by wheat, fodder crops and fields prepared for sowing. The Minister also said that the floods would not have been so devastating in Lucani and Arilje if the dams under construction had been finished. She added that in the previous period the enterprises Srbijavode and Beogradvode had completed about three billion one hundred million RSD worth of works in 82 municipalities. There will be a commission to assess the damage, the Government will donate money which has already been earmarked to help the endangered areas and agricultural producers said the Minister.

The ensuing discussion focused on flood damage control, the Draft Law amending and modifying the Water Law which is waiting for the new Government to be set up, subsidies for agricultural producers, remedying the damages in local self-governments and the building of bridges in inadequate locations. The Committee also discussed flood defence projects and EU assistance.

The Committee members thanked all the organisations and services at the republic and local level for their efforts and dedication to dealing with the natural disasters, saying they were happy by the timely reaction and minimal damages. Based on the information and reports by the competent ministry, administrations and MPs, the Committee drafted the following recommendations:

1. To remedy the damages caused by the floods as soon as possible, in accordance with the scale of said damage and potentials available;
2. The Committee recommends that the veterinary and plant protection directorates and other services employ appropriate protective measures to prevent threats to human, animal and plant health;
3. The Committee recommends the rehabilitation and management of all waterways and irrigation canals, including modern techniques applied in the European Union to minimize future damage, and to, in these efforts, particularly focus on landslide prevention;
4. The Committee recommends amendments and modifications first and foremost to the Water Law, so as to better focus future efforts to combat floods.

The sitting was attended by Committee members and deputy members Miodrag Nikolic, Miroslav Marinkovic, Milan Kovacevic, Marjana Maras, Vladan Milosevic, Nadica Nikolic Tanasijevic, Zarko Bogatinovic, Veroljub Matic, Velimir Stanojevic, Milija Miletic, Zoran Antic, Arpad Fremond and representatives of the competent ministry, administrations and directorates.

The sitting was chaired by Committee Chairman Marijan Risticevic.

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