Bulgaria’s Minister of Environment and Water, Neno Dimov, on January 10 was accused of deliberate mismanagement. He remains in custody for 72 hours. The Prosecutor's Office will seek for remand.
According to the evidence gathered by the Prosecutor's Office, for more than a year and a half since the beginning of 2018, Neno Dimov, has been informed monthly by the head of the Water Supply and Sewerage company in Pernik about the state of Studena Dam and the decrease of water quantities in it.
Prosecutors say Dimov should have banned the use of water for industrial purposes at that time, but he did not. On the contrary, every month he authorized the use of water by steel manufacturer "Stomana Industry" as well as by District Heating company in Pernik, thus causing a water crisis. According to the prosecution and the evidence that has been gathered, there are even months in which he confirmed the use of more than the required quantities of water.
Chief Prosecutor Spokesperson Siika Mileva said in the course of the investigation it was found that the water resources of Studena Dam had significantly dropped to volumes approaching the critical minimum, the so-called dead volume of the dam, in which water supply cannot be secured for drinking and industrial needs of the population in the municipality of Pernik.
According to the Water Act, Studena Dam is state-owned and as such is managed by the Ministry of Environment and Waters. The water level in the dam is monitored by the water supply company in the town of Pernik. it also reports on the status of the water levels to the Minister of Environment and Water.
"It has been identified that since the beginning of 2018 the water level in Studena Dam has decreased significantly, for which the water supply company has continuously informed the municipality of Pernik, the Pernik district government, as well as the Minister of Environment and Wate, who has approved the respective schedules on a monthly basis and authorized water supply for industrial, domestic and environmental needs," the Chief Prosecutor’s spokesperson added.
Siika Mileva, Spokesperson of the Chief Prosecutor: It was found that the Minister, contrary to the Water Act and other regulatiions, authorized the use of cold water from the Studena dam for industrial needs of certain companies, although he had been duly notified in writing that the water level in the reservoir has been decreasing significantly in recent years.
According to the Prosecutor's Office, the Minister breached his official duties and in the period from January 1, 2018 to November 17, 2019 issued permits for industrial water use to certain companies, which was several times larger, although the inflow into the Studena dam decreased dramatically.
He has deliberately not taken sufficient care of the management of the water regime of Studena dam, despite the availability of all required reports from various institutions. In this way, it caused significant damage, resulting in the consumption of millions of litres of water, which in turn led to a reduction in drinking water for the residents of Pernik municipality.
Angel Kanev, Prosecutor at the Specialized Prosecutor's Office: At this stage of the collected evidence, which exceeds 48 volumes, we consider and have made a reasonable assumption that there was a criminal offense – deliberate mismanagement. Neno Nenov Dimov has been pressed charges, as an official, in his capacity of Minister of the Environment and Water, for the crime of deliberate mismanagement.
The Prosecutor's Office explained that all the facts were being checked. The law provides for between two and eight years in prison for this crime.
If the Minister had forbidden the use of the water of Studena Dam for industrial purposes, there would have been sufficient water at the moment to prevent the water restrictions in Pernik, the judicial authorities said. According to the law, priority is given to the supply of water for domestic use.
The search of Neno Dimov's home also uncovered documents, including the order of former Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov to correct the area used by Yulen over Bansko as a concession area in Pirin Park. At this stage the prosecutor's office explained that they had not established data for committed crimes, but would check very carefully whether Dimov had fulfilled his obligations under the law and if he had not fulfilled them, they could also charge him in relation to the concession zone above Bansko resort.
The evidence gathered in the case gives reason to believe that he could commit more crimes and influence the court proceedings. A arrest warrant has been issued for 72 hours, the prosecutor's office said.
Bulgaria’s Minister of Environment and Water, Neno Dimov, submitted resignation earlir today. The Prime Minister accepted it.
Dimov was detained for 24 hours on January 9. He was taken for questioning at the National Investigative Service in relation to the investigation of water shortage that has led to water restrictions in the town of Pernik, as well as a scandal over the storage and disposal of huge amount of waste imported from Italy in the country.