This winter we talked with the Mayor of Babušnica, Mr. Dragan Vidanović about the activities carried out in the municipality. Our interlocutor confirms that it is one of the most underdeveloped municipalities in Serbia, but there is enthusiasm and effort to improve the quality of life.
Geographic location is attractive, the municipality is close to Bulgarian border, well connected with roads to nearby Niš and Pirot. It remains to work and invest in neglected areas of public life to take advantage of all the benefits that this town has. And there are many, this includes the history that goes back to the Roman period, archaeological sites and thermal waters that this locality is famous for.
EP: Municipality Babušnica signed the Contract with the Ministry of Energy and Mining and received together with Žagubica and Kragujevac the largest amount of funds, 15 million dinars for the improvement in energy efficiency. You have already had allocated funds in 2014, so tell us what was done in 2014 and what will you spend the funds allocated at the end of 2016 on?
Dragan Vidanović: In 2014, the municipality of Babušnica participated in the public call of the Ministry of Mining and Energy for financing projects in the field of energy efficiency in local governments. This activity was carried out in accordance with the Action Plan for Energy Efficiency of the Republic of Serbia and the municipality received funds in the amount of 12,178,920.00 dinars for the implementation of the project Improvement of Energy Efficiency in 2014: “Reconstruction of thermal envelope and replacement of doors and windows in the Babušnica Municipal Building “. Within this Project energy rehabilitation of the Babušnica Municipal Building was done.
The Project was completed successfully and its realization improved energy efficiency in such a way that the building after the performed works received a passport that upgraded the building from class “G” to class “B”. The implementation of this project reduced carbon dioxide emissions, while in the financial domain cash savings are generated.
Due to the public call, the municipality received funds in the amount of 17,650,000.00 dinars VAT included, for the realization of the project Improvement of Energy Efficiency in 2016 “Rehabilitation of the façade and windows of the Health Centre “Dr. Jovan Ristić” Babušnica”. The contractual value after the procedure of public procurement is 10,007,570.00 dinars without VAT and the deadline is 180 days from the date of introduction in the work itself.
After the completion of works, energy passport will be issued and the building passes from “E” class to “B” class. Also in 2016, the municipality Babušnica realized the project “Improvement of Energy Efficiency of the building of the Cultural Centre in Babušnica“. The project is funded by the European Union and the Government of Switzerland, and is implemented within the framework of European PROGRESS program. The contractual value of the works amounts to 10,777,805.00 without VAT and the deadline is 30 days from the date of introduction in the work itself. After the completion of works, energy passport will be issued and the building passes from “G” class to “D” class.
EP: Similar projects are being implemented in Bosnia and Montenegro, public institutions receive funds, and in Croatia even citizens as private persons entered the project and received funding for rehabilitation and change of windows and doors in private homes. How do you assess the overall situation in the region? Why did the investment in energy efficiency fail for more than two decades?
Dragan Vidanović: I think that Serbia is late in relation to the surroundings when it comes to improving energy efficiency, but now Serbia is catching up. In the last few years Serbia has invested considerably more in energy efficiency both in terms of legislation and policy documents, as well as in terms of allocation of funds for the promotion of energy efficiency as evidenced by the example of the municipality Babušnica, which has received significant funding from local and international donors. I believe that the potential for the improvement of energy efficiency is great and that it is still underutilized, which is our task in the forthcoming period.
EP: What is more important for your local community: road infrastructure, water supply, rehabilitation of landfills or is this type of projects the most important? Tell us about the overall situation in your municipality.
Dragan Vidanović: Although municipality Babušnica is one of the most underdeveloped municipalities in Serbia, when it comes to energy efficiency we invest a lot of effort and resources from the local budget for the promotion of this field as one of the fundamental pillars of our civilization. I think that it is equally important as the development of road infrastructure, water supply and cleaning of landfills. By improving energy efficiency, we significantly affect the protection of the environment and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. In our municipality, there is a large percentage of the rural areas with low level of pollution, but environmental protection is certainly one of the priorities. Energy recovery and efficient use of energy, help protect the environment, improve the quality of life of citizens and contributes to the reduction of financial resources which influences the sustainable economic development as the ultimate goal.
EP: What are the institutions involved in this project? Which contractors will implement all planned activities?
Dragan Vidanović: Local government with its organ, public institutions, public enterprises and other institutions and organizations are involved in the implementation of the project and they contribute directly or indirectly to the implementation of project activities. As an example of good practice and cooperation with the European PROGRESS program. With their help municipality realizes the project “Improvement of Energy Efficiency of the building of the Cultural Centre”. When it comes to improvement of energy efficiency of the Health Centre “Dr. Jovan Ristić”, a contract was signed with the best bidder in accordance with the law and other legal norms, where the works will be carried out in accordance with the license granted and elaborate on energy efficiency for this building. When selecting bidders, the preference is given to those who offer goods of domestic origin.
Interview by: Vesna Vukajlović
This interview was originally published in our bulletin “Energy Efficiency” in April 2017.