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VOICE: City Authorities and Investors Still Silent About Possible Catastrophe in Novi Sad

16. Dec 2021. Articles
4 min reading


Mladen Savatović, novinar je VOICE-a i master komunikologije. Piše tekstove o nepravilnostima u radu lokalnih samouprava, zloupotrebe novca i moći, ekologiji i drugim društveno-političkim temama. Od 2014. do 2016. godine radio je kao glavni i odgovorni urednik Univerzitetskog odjeka, studentskog portala Odseka za medijske studije Filozofskog fakulteta u Novom Sadu. Pisao je za studentske portale iz Crne Gore i Bosne i Hercegovine, kao i za lokalne novine „North Myrtle Beach Times“ i „Loris Times“ iz Južne Karoline, SAD. Učestvovao u projektu „Dan u tvojim cipelama“, koji se bavio podizanjem standarda u izveštavanju o osobama sa invaliditetom, koji je organizovala Novosadska novinarska škola.

Even though the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV) appealed in their announcement to the competent authorities and investors regarding the construction of the future shopping centre “Promenada”, asking them to promptly solve the problem of underground water, which poses a threat to the daily lives of the citizens, and so did a coalition of NGOs “Gradjanska Vojvodina” (“Citizens’ Vojvodina”), the city authorities and investors are still silent about the matter, while anonymous designers at the construction site in question claim to have never heard about the problem.

In their announcement, LSV claims that, according to the information available to them, the design of the shopping centre construction has not been adhered to, i.e. the problem of underground water has not been dealt with appropriately.

They also claim that the investors, after noticing the problem, installed wells around the facility in order to drain excess underground water and pump it into the sewage system. It is also said in the announcement that this will lead to floods during the first heavy rainfall.

LSV also warns that this move will lead to a shortage of drinking water in the city and that, due to lowering of the underground water levels following draining, the buildings in the nearby residential areas will start to crack and collapse, eventually.

This party has also called the investors to take necessary steps without delay in order to prevent catastrophic consequences and appealed to promptly find those responsible “who dared to alter the design of the Promenada Shopping Centre construction.”

“Gradjanska Vojvodina” has issued an announcement in which they accuse the investor of failing to adhere to the design and warned that the whole city of Novi Sad would be without drinking water and sewage system. This organization asked for the self-organization of citizens to “defend the health and lives of their children before it is too late.” “We wonder how it is possible for the competent authorities to allow something like this. What were the monitoring and inspection services doing? What was the mayor doing, except dreaming of the demolition of SPENS? He has lived to see this senseless “capital construction” demolish half the city, while the whole city will be without the sewage system and drinking water,” the announcement states.

Canak: Not a political question, but a real problem

The leader of LSV Nenad Canak said to the Investigative and Analytic Centre of Vojvodina (VOICE) that he was certain that the mayor of Novi Sad Milos Vucevic and other competent people in the city shared his concern regarding the issue of underground water, as well as his attitude that a prompt reaction was necessary.

“Eventually, we’ll have a situation where 24 pumps will be working 24 hours a day, spending a hundred thousand euros on electricity alone. Even if the investor covered the expenses, that wouldn’t be the solution. What happens if their company goes bankrupt, who will pay the bills? The citizens will and that will remain a never-ending problem,” says Canak to VOICE, adding that this isn’t about politics or who runs the city.

He states that the design has been altered and the problem has arisen because the investor was looking to save on the material used and that he had to react as a citizen, not a politician, and raise the question.

“I remember when the underground passage was built in the centre, close to the Nork department store, there was a similar problem with underground water. It’s like pushing a plastic bottle into sand, but the water is pushing it back onto the surface. That’s why all the surrounding facilities will be in danger,” Nenad Canak warns.

Competent bodies and investor without reaction

The competent bodies in Novi Sad have turned a deaf ear to the claims in the announcements issued by LSV and “Gradjanska Vojvodina.” Even after numerous calls and e-mails sent, VOICE has still not received an answer to the question whether there were any complications during the construction of Promenada due to underground water, nor do we know whether the daily life of the citizens has been jeopardized as a consequence.

The manager of “Vodovod i kanalizacija Novi Sad” PUC Gvozden Perkovic refused to comment on the mentioned claims. The response from his office was that we needed to turn to the PR department, but we have not received any response from them either a whole day.

The mayor of Novi Sad Milos Vucevic has also been silent and his office replied that he would respond as soon as we submitted the questions. We did so, but have not been given any reply. VOICE has also been deprived of any response from the department of urban planning and housing.

The NEPI company, the investor in the Promenada project and purchaser of the most expensive construction land in the history of Novi Sad, has also failed to answer at least one of many calls we have made or to reply to the questions sent via e-mail.

A reporter from VOICE visited the construction site of Promenada, but failed to get any concrete answers. Those working in the office of the construction site superintendent Aleksandra Kovacevic said she was “on holiday” and that they weren’t allowed to comment on any claims.

One of the designers, who wished to remain anonymous, briefly dismissed the claim that there had been a problem with underground water and claimed that no pumping stations have been installed to solve such problems.

“There is a pumping station, one that is relocated in accordance with the city’s instructions and the city is building another one. The shopping centre, as such, covers 100% of the plot and all the works around it are the works done by the city. Perhaps a new pumping station is installed because the amount of water increases because of the facility, but I really don’t know. I’m no expert in hydraulic engineering. That really has nothing to do with the design,” claims one of the designers and suggests we wait for the investor’s clarification.

The reporter from VOICE was denied a permission to walk around the construction site with one of the designers or other workers, because, as those from the construction site superintendent’s office said, “security personnel would not allow it.”

Mladen Savatović (VOICE)