Hydro plant company in Black Sea threatens to seek millions in damages from villagers
Serkan Ocak ZONGULDAK
Locals of the Devrek district have held demonstrations and taken legal action against two hydroelectrict plants on the Devrek river.A company building a hydroelectric power plant (HES) in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak has threatened local villagers who launched legal action to halt the construction of the facility with seeking millions of Turkish Lira-worth of damages.
Two plants are planned to be built on the Devrek River, which crosses the high-altitude interior parts of the province, likely causing the waters of the stream to drop considerably.
As in many cases along the Black Sea coast, villagers living along the river have opposed the construction of the Çayeli 1 and 2 plants and sued the Environment Ministry demanding the cancelation of the environmental impact assessment report (ÇED) that gave permission to the company, REİS A.Ş.,
to carry out the project.
Some of the locals had also organized a demonstration blocking work near a bridge that crosses the stream, claiming the construction had damaged the bridge’s footing. The protest led the company to first issue a statement on its website saying, “We know how to fight, too,” before sending a notice through the public notary, claiming the company would suffer losses at a minimum of 30 million liras.
The notice was sent on Sept. 11 to 14 locals, including the father of Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker Celal Ulupınar.
After receiving the notices, the villagers held a public demonstration nearby the Devrek River, protesting the brutal methods of the constructor company, accusing it of bullying them. They have also stressed that a trial was opened against the Environment Ministry, emphasizing that any loss should be addressed to the institution.
“Our clients have opened a lawsuit to cancel the ÇED on the grounds that the HES will damage their living space and their local economy,” lawyer Yakup Okumuşoğlu said.
“So it’s the approved construction plans that are the matter of objection. The parties of the trial are the ministry and the Governor’s Office of Zonguldak. The company has threatened our client with the notice. They did it before by telling them ‘we know how to fight too.’ We really don’t understand what their purpose here is,” he said.
The Environment Ministry has approved most of the ÇED reports commissioned by constructor companies, many times causing controversy. The HES projects built on small streams in usually protected rural areas have been massively criticized for the significant environmental damage caused in return for limited energy production.