Thursday, January 10, 2013

Controversial Ilisu Dam on Hasankeyf halted by Turkish court

Controversial Ilisu Dam on Hasankeyf halted by Turkish court

Doga Dernegi (BirdLife Turkey), 10 January 2013, Istanbul - The Turkish
State Council ruled on January 7 in favour of the legal case filed by
the Chamber of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB) against the construction
of the Ilisu dam project, ordering an immediate halt to the
controversial dam construction in southeast Turkey.

The Council of State concluded that the Ilisu dam construction on the
Tigris River, proceeding without the legally required Environmental
Impact Assessment (EIA), goes against Turkish Environment law and EIA

The massive dam being constructed on the Tigris River has drawn
international controversy because it will flood the ancient city of
Hasankeyf whose history stretches back over 12,000 years. It is an area
that meets nine out of 10 UNESCO criteria for World Heritage status, but
the government is refusing to nominate the site and guarantee its
protection because it would stand in the way of plans for the Ilisu dam.

The dam's project outline was finalised in the 1980s but it prompted
strong reaction from local communities, environmental, cultural heritage
and human rights groups as well as academics and celebrities in Turkey
and abroad. In 2009, three European Credit Agencies withdrew from the
project due to the Turkish government's failure to meet international
standards to protect nature, culture and the rights of over 25,000
people who would be displaced.

This is the second time the government lost a case on the Ilisu dam
before the State Council. In 2011 the State Council had already ruled
against government's attempt to bypass EIA regulations. Then, the
Turkish government introduced new regulation exonerating the project
from the required EIA in an attempt to override the ruling. The Office
of the Prime Minister had also published a circular order allowing all
works related to the infrastructure of the dam including roads, power
lines etc. to go ahead without any EIA.

TMMOB countered the Turkish government's actions again last year by
bringing the case before the State Council a second time. The Council's
recent ruling against the government brings hope to the local
communities and NGOs that have been trying to stop the ongoing dam

The government can object to the State Council's ruling within seven
days. Alternatively, the government may again choose to pass new
legislation to override the court's ruling.

"It is evident from the actions of government that the Ilisu dam could
never be built if the law were observed. The Turkish government has
instead been choosing to bypass conservation laws by passing new
regulations designed to allow the dam's construction at whatever cost,"
said Engin Yilmaz, Executive Director of Doga Dernegi (BirdLife Turkey).
"This time the world is watching. The ruling must stand, in the interest
of protecting our common natural and cultural heritage. The project must
be cancelled, and the region designated as a World Heritage Site," he said.

Further information:

Engin Yilmaz Executive Director of Doga Dernegi (BirdLife Turkey) T: +905498602766
Dicle Tuba Kilic Rivers Programme Coordinator of Doga Dernegi T: +905498010082

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