Seized olive groves in Soma surrounded by wire fence to make way for third thermic plant
Thousands of square-meters of olive groves in Soma were expropriated by a Cabinet decision on May 10, only three days before a mining disaster that took the lives of 301 workers. DHA PHotoSoma residents are preparing to trade off olives for more coal, as the olive groves at the disaster-struck town in western Turkey were surrounded by a wire fence to make way for the construction of a third thermic plant.
The move came days after a new law as part of an omnibus will that enabled the construction of energy facilities on olive groves was approved by Parliament.
Thousands of square-meters of olive groves in the mining town were expropriated by a Cabinet decision on May 10, only three days before a mining disaster that took the lives of 301 workers.
The tender to build a new thermic plant was won by Kolin, one of the five constructor companies among the winning consortium for Istanbul’s third airport that are known for its close ties with the government.
Greenpeace, along with locals living at the Yırca village where the plant is planned to be built, launched a lawsuit, which is still ongoing, against the decision.
Greenpeace said it contacted local authorities in Soma to prevent the company from harming the olive groves before the conclusion of the legal process. “There have been no notifications to the villagers in Yırca regarding the expropriation process in line with the legal procedures,” said Greenpeace’s lawyer Deniz Bayram. He added that villagers wanted to continue to produce olives and were against the plant project.
The law has been described as a “death sentence” for olive groves by producers, who stressed that it will not only damage the environment, but irreparably affect the economy of the local farmers. For its part, the Energy Ministry has argued that the bill was necessary for the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear plant in the southern coastal area of Akkuyu, in the province of Mersin, to allow constructor companies to receive their licenses.