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News Turkey plans to restart work on controversial dam project

Turkey announced plans to resume a controversial £1bn dam project in the face of environmental protests that it would displace thousands of people, destroy habitats and drown priceless archaeological treasures.

The environment minister, Veysel Eroglu, said work on the Ilisu hydroelectric dam on the Tigris river in south-east Turkey would restart after a six-month funding suspension ends next week.

The announcement disappointed campaigners who believed that the project had suffered a potentially fatal blow last December, after German, Swiss and Austrian institutions announced they were withholding finance because fears about the dam's environmental and social impact had not been addressed. The governments agreed that 150 World Bank conditions on the environment, heritage sites, neighbouring states and human relocation must be met.

Turkey's government argues the dam - which is planned to generate 1,200MW of electricity - is an essential part of a £19.3bn plan to bring economic prosperity to the south-east, long blighted by armed conflict between the army and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers party (PKK).


Environmentalists have warned that the dam could destroy up to 80 towns, villages and hamlets, resulting in the forced relocation of between 50,000 and 80,000 people. Campaigners have argued that residents have not been offered adequate compensation and have accused Turkey of failing to properly consult Iraq, into which the Tigris flows, and Syria, another neighbour. The Ilisu project - due for completion in 2013 - is part of a wider network of dams known as the South-eastern Anatolia Project, which the government of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pinpointed as key to transforming the region's economy and quelling Kurdish separatist violence.

First planned in the 1980s, the dam has a history of troubles. The British construction company Balfour Beatty scrapped plans for a £200m investment in 2001 under pressure from environmentalists and human rights groups.


Contact information n/a
News type Inbrief
File link
Source of information The Guardian
Keyword(s) dams
Geographical coverage Turkey
News date 02/07/2009
Working language(s) ENGLISH