Jánovas, the evicted village aiming to reborn – Part I

This post is also available in: Spanish

The sad story of the latests decades of Jánovas (Chánovas in Aragonese lenguaje) hangs on the wall of one of the houses that remain partially standing in this village belonging to the municipality of Fiscal, in the Aragonese region of Sobrarbe.

“ JÁNOVAS was one of the most prosperous towns of the region and was the capital of the Ara´s basin still the colossal project of a water reservoir developed in the ´50s, ended completely and traumatically with any life expectancy.  It supposed the expropriation and forced eviction of more than 150 families from the villages of Jánovas, Lavelilla and Lacort, in the basin of river Ara, but also were affected the villages of Albella, Ligüerre de Ara, Javierre de Ara, Santa Olaria, Burgasé and all the towns of La Solana´s valley.

In the early years of the 1960 decade the compulsory expropriations started and some time later, given the disagreement of some of them* to leave, the company started to blow up the empty houses without any safety measure to protect the integrity of the rest of inhabitants already in the town, children included.

Despite that the regional inspection of Huesca banned the decision of closing the Janova´s school whilst there were children, Iberduero** decided to close it on its own and on 4 february 1966 a worker of the company knocked down the door, pushed the schoolteacher pulling her hair out and kicked the children.

The houses blowing-up and the closing of the school made impossible to continue living in Jánovas and the surrounding towns, but despite that, in order to finish with any attempt of return, Iberduero destroyed the lands, felled the fruit and olives trees, demolished the irrigation ditches and finally cut the water and electrify supply.

All this without the reservoir´s construction works even started, and without being clear the profitability of such work by the concessionaire nor the Spanish State!. Simply harassment.

This hostile atmosphere lasted until 1984, year in which Emilio Garcés and Francisca Castillono had no choice but leave their home after 20 years of solitary resistance.

In 2001, after years of social movilizations, lawsuits and ecological actions, an environmental impact report  of the project was developed, meeting thus the new European rules. The result was negative, but the project was not officially abandoned until 2005.

In June 2008 the Spanish Ministry of Environment published the extinction of the concession of the hydroelectric facilities of Fiscal and Jánovas in the river Ara, and Escalona-Boltaña, in the river Cinca, established in the ministerial decision of march 28 1951, and “motivated for the impossibility of proceeding with the construction of the water reservoir of Jánovas”.

A bureaucratic process opens now with the delivery of reversion applications to Endesa, current concessionaire, for review and approval. But both Endesa and Confederación Hidrográfica del Ebro (managing body of water) say that “the fair” is to pay what the law says in these case that is the expropriation price updated to the CPI. (These interest are more or less thirty times the received money). They forget the abuses, harassment, the current conditions of the buildings, (IN RUINS), the hundreds of broken lives and the fifty years passed without enjoying the properties. We expect that once and for all the JUSTICE is done.”

This post, and the new and hopefully story of Jánovas…

… will continue…

The lasts decades of Jánovas; written in one of the buildings´ walls that remain standing in the village. Source: Aragon Valley


* People, neighbours.
** Now Iberdrola.
BIQUIPEDIA. Chanovas. http://an.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chanovas. Consulted 02 june 2014.
EL PAÍS. Regreso agridulce a Jánovas. 15 dec 2013. http://sociedad.elpais.com/sociedad/2013/12/14/actualidad/1387051613_669799.html. Consulted 02 june 2014.