2019 Water Management

Ilısu Dam Project

In the late 1970s, the Turkish Government launched the Southeastern Anatolian Project (GAP project), with the declared aim to produce cheap energy and to encourage land redistribution by increasing the amount of irrigable land. However, very high costs, project delays, negative environmental impacts of dams, and the failed construction of many of the irrigation works, turned GAP into a really difficult problem to solve over the years. The Ilisu Dam Project is the third biggest hydroelectric project of the GAP, with 1,200 MW of capacity installed; its reservoir will submerge approximately 300 km2 in the Tigris Valley. Even though project works started in 1954 the project has only been approved in late 1990s. Since then, several consortia of European companies embarked on the project, but they didn’t received the support of national Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) because of controversial social, environmental and cultural impacts that it would cause; many of these companies therefore withdrew from the project. Since the beginning, civil society had complained about serious impacts of the construction of the dam, organized protests, demonstrations and launched campaigns in Turkey and in Europe, which have played a key role in rising awareness among institutions and citizens. Among them, the notorious campaign “Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive” (ITKHA) was started in 2006 and organized a protest camp in October 2010. Hasankeyf is a 12.000 years old town condemned to disappear under the waters of the artificial lake of the Ilisu dam. Although there has not been reached a final agreement between the various actors involved in the project, displacement and resettlement measures have already been implemented. In 2010, the Turkish President expressed the willingness of continuing the project with national public and private banks even without foreign financial support. The works resumed only in 2011, and the project is still under construction with national and European companies funds. The ITKHA and the Chamber of Landscape Architects of Turkey tried to stop the project by calling upon the administrative court of Diyarbakır. In January 2013, the court sentenced to stop the project due to the inability to properly conduct the environmental impact assessments. The Turkish government changed the law in order to ignore the decision and pursue the project. In September 2014 Austria, Germany and Switzerland withdrew support for export-loan guarantees to building contractors for the project because developers were unable to meet the environmental and cultural conditions set by the World Bank. Nevertheless the construction of the dam is ongoing under a violent and unsecure environment. In the early year 2015, the PKK guerilla (the workers’ party of Kurdistan) destroyed machines and a pipe from the construction site. The governmental response was an increase of the militarization of the site, adding 600 soldiers to the 1.000 soldiers already located at the site. What’s more the intensified opposition to the project by the local population forced the companies to hire non-local workers. On October 20th, 2015 a Global Hasankeyf Action Day against the Ilisu Dam was held and a new campaign aims to declare Hasankeyf a UNESCO world heritage site, together with the Iraqi marshes. Yet the construction of the dam is about to be completed. Civil society and activists worries are very high regarding the threats on peace such dam is going to represent. Once effective, the dam will be forcing thousands of Kurdistan villagers to move to the cities while there is a high risk it will provoke water shortages for irrigation in the Iraqi valleys.

Source: Ejatlas


  • 3 December 1994

    Türkiye çapındaki istatistiklere göre, GAP’ın uygulandığı günden bu yana GAP bölgesinin illeri (Gaziantep dışında) Türkiye sıralamasında daha çok gerilemiştir. Yani 1989 GAP Master planında belirtilen “bölge ile diğer bölgeler arasındaki gelişmişlik farkını giderme” hedefinin tersine gelişme yaşanmıştır. Urfa Ziraat Mühendisleri Odası’nın belirttiğine göre, GAP suyu ile Urfa ilinde sulanan alanların yarısında yanlış teknikler ve çiftçilerin eğitilmemesi sonucu tuzlanma veya yüksek taban suyu sor

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