Some questions

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Sep 8 07:03:09 MDT 2001


On Sat, 8 Sep 2001 12:32:45 +0100, Richard Partridge wrote:
>I would also like to know who is funding the
>contraversial damm project in turkey, where
>thousands of turkish kurds are set to be
>displaced.

The Guardian (London)
July 4, 2001

Sam could lose pounds 200m aid: Report on controversial Turkish
project which would destroy historic sites says conditions for
British backing have not been met

Paul Brown Environment correspondent

A long-awaited study into the impact of the Ilisu dam in Turkey shows
that none of the four points the government laid down as a condition
of support has yet been met - giving ministers the excuse they need
to back out of the highly controversial project.

The 500-page report published yesterday says none of the 59,000 Kurds
affected has been properly consulted, local culture will be
irretrievably lost, hundreds of archaeological sites will be drowned,
and Syria and Iraq have not been consulted about its effect on them.

A new fear is that the huge reservoir might develop toxic algae
blooms because of pollution from fertiliser use, and malaria could
spread. Security could be also be a problem during construction.
These findings come 18 months after the prime minister, against the
advice of cabinet colleagues, decided he was keen to back the project
with pounds 200m of taxpayers money in the form of an export credit
guarantee. He hoped it would be the first of many projects in Turkey,
including repairing earthquake damage, which would fall to British
firms.

In a statement in December 1999 Stephen Byers, then trade and
industry secretary, said the government was "minded" to back the
project in which Balfour Beatty, the British construction company,
was the lead contractor.

The first of four conditions set by the government was that a
resettlement programme must be set up for the Kurdish people. It was
clear from yesterday's report, compiled mainly by Turkish experts,
but some from Switzerland, Canada and Belgium, that this had not been
done. The Turkish authorities have not so far fully informed the
Kurds of their plans or their rights under Turkish law.

The second condition was to make provision for upstream water
treatment plants capable of ensuring water quality is maintained in
the Tigris and the reservoir. The report says that one is under
construction and five more are planned but this will not be enough to
solve the problem. The possibility of toxic algae blooms could harm
the potential for fisheries.

The third condition was of adequate downstream water flows to Iraq
and Syria. Already irrigation has reduced flow by 10% but the Tigris
has huge seasonal variations in volumes of water. The Ilisu dam could
have a beneficial effect in regulating this. There is no mention
about whether Syria and Iraq agrees with this.

The final condition was the production of a detailed plan to preserve
the archaeological heritage of the main city of Hasankeyf as much as
possible. The report says the town was once the centre of a small
kingdom and the remains go back 2,000 years. The whole area has
hundreds of sites relating to 100,000 years of hu man history
including evidence of the first human endeavours to domesticate
plants and animals and the first permanent settlements. A research
programme has been devised to record all these sites and excavate a
large number of them before they are drowned, the report says.

The original announcement that Mr Blair favoured going ahead with the
project caused outrage in the international environment movement,
among Kurdish groups, and in Iraq and Syria where the waters from the
Tigris flow from Turkey. An international Ilisu Dam Campaign had
already been formed to fight the project and has continued to grow.

Since the 1999 announcement the issue had been examined on four
occasions by select committees of MPs, all of which have recommended
that the government withdraw from the project. Although there has
been no official government change of heart, ministers have been
increasingly cool about the Ilisu scheme.

Yesterday Patricia Hewitt, the new trade and industry secretary,
repeated that all conditions must be met and put the report out for
public comments. She also said she would be seeking further expert
advice before making a decision.

There was no sign yesterday that opposition to the dam had
diminished. Charles Secrett, director of Friends of the Earth, said:
"Building the Ilisu dam would damage the environment, destroy
historic towns and villages, abuse the human rights of tens of
thousands of Kurdish people and threaten regional peace."

Main points

* The area to be drowned includes hundreds of archaeologicial sites
revealing 100,000 years of human history

* The dam construction will cause security problems with the Kurds
and workers will need army protection

* The dam could cause a significant rise in malaria

* No large scale consultation programme has been implemented for the
local population although 82 settlements will be drowned and 101 will
lose farmland

* Surveys of people displaced in past dam projects in Turkey show 67%
of those resettled were dissatisfied and 89% paid to move wanted to
return home

*The dam could cause serious toxic algae blooms

--
Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 09/08/2001

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