In the central part of Serbia, there is a settlement of medieval origin – Lapovo. By royal decree, once a large Serbian village, in 1896, it was declared a small town. Today, it is divided into two parts, the Upper, through which the Constantinople Road passes, and the Lower, through which the Svilajnac Road and the BelgradeNiš-Skopje-Athens railway.
The municipality of Lapovo, formerly known as Hlapovo valley, is located between three rivers, the Great Morava, Rača and Lepenica, and at the crossroads connecting Central Europe and the Middle East. It has an exceptional geographical position, making it a dynamic economic development scene. However, as we cannot talk about development today without adding the adjective “sustainable”, we were interested in how the municipality of Lapovo harmonizes the large influx of domestic and foreign investors with measures for environmental protection. We talked about this with the mayor of Lapovo, Boban Miličić.
EP: Environmental protection is recognized as a priority worldwide, so investments in renewable energy sources, afforestation and the fight against pollution are increasing. How important is this issue for the Municipality of Lapovo?
Boban Miličić: The issue of environmental protection is of great importance everywhere in the world and, therefore, in the municipality of Lapovo. The transition to the use of renewable energy sources and a responsible attitude towards the environment, in general, is very important, both for us and the generations to come. The energies of the sun and wind are inexhaustible and should definitely be used according to the budget possibilities. One of the ideas that our municipality is guided by is the afforestation of locations where it is feasible.
EP: Air pollution is undoubtedly the biggest environmental problem in Serbia, especially in the winter months when the concentration of suspended particles is several times higher than it is allowed. How is the Municipality of Lapovo dealing with this problem? Are there plans to replace fossil fuel furnaces with those that use environmentally friendly energy sources?
Boban Miličić: Air pollution is a big environmental problem, especially in winter. One measurement conducted on the municipality’s territory showed that in the winter months, the use of fossil fuels leads to increased air pollution, especially in the center of Lapovo. As there is no continuous monitoring of air quality in the municipality of Lapovo, the first and necessary step that needs to be implemented to determine air quality is its monitoring. To influence the environmental awareness of citizens, this year, the municipality of Lapovo signed an agreement with the Ministry of Mining and Energy on co-financing the program of energy remediation of residential buildings, family houses and apartments, which will enable citizens to directly contribute to preserving the quality of the environment with own funds, state, and municipal subsidies. Implementing the planned energy efficiency measures will contribute to reducing the waste of existing energy and obtaining it from renewable energy sources.
EP: More green areas guarantee healthier air and the restoration of biodiversity. How much is the Municipality of Lapovo dedicated to afforestation, and what can you tell us about the recent actions or those that await you?
Boban Miličić: On the territory of the municipality of Lapovo, with the help of socially responsible companies, afforestation action was carried out at several locations last year, and this trend is planned to continue in the future. The preschool and school institutions were also involved in the afforestation action, all to raise the awareness of young people about the importance of preserving the environment. Also, the municipality of Lapovo has repeatedly responded to the call of the NGO Green Development Center, which through the action “Plant your shade” gives free seedlings to citizens and thus conducted an organized distribution of seedlings to a large number of interested citizens.
EP: Wild landfills “at every step” not only spoils the appearance of our country but also represents a serious environmental problem whose solution requires the engagement of all actors in the society. Are there any illegal landfills on the territory of the municipality of Lapovo, and how is this problem solved?
Boban Miličić: The municipality is aware of the problem of the existence of illegal landfills. In accordance with that, it is taking appropriate measures to solve this problem. Every year, certain budget funds are allocated for cleaning existing landfills. Last year, the largest of them was partially rehabilitated, and the works continued this year. In cooperation with the company FCC EKO Ltd., which deals with waste management on the territory of the municipality, spring and autumn cleaning is being carried out. In certain locations, large containers are set up to collect larger and bulky waste to make it easier for citizens to dispose of it and reduce the possibility of its disposal in unauthorized locations. Also, the municipality regularly fulfills its annual obligation to submit records of illegal landfills on its territory to the Environmental Protection Agency. A significant contribution to the reduction of environmental pollution in this way is the donation of the Ministry of Environmental Protection in the form of 13 plastic containers with a volume of 1,100 liters and 490 garbage cans with a volume of 240 liters, whose use will also reduce illegal waste disposal.
Interviewed by: Milena Maglovski
Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES.