Work begins on 6 billion Turkish Lira irrigation dam in Silvan
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Once completed, the Silvan dam will irrigate 2,500 square kilometers of land. The project is a part of Turkey’s decades-long GAP program to support agriculture. DHA photoConstruction work for the Silvan Dam, in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, which will be the largest dam of its kind in the country after the Atatürk Dam, began yesterday with a ceremony attended by four Cabinet ministers.
The project will cost 6 billion Turkish Liras and promises a boom in agriculture in the country’s less-developed southeastern region, as it will irrigate an 2,500 square kilometers of land. Farmers on this land will earn an additional 884 million liras annually.
“This project is a critical irrigation investment. Once it is completed, there will be a huge boom in agricultural production,” Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz said at the ceremony. He added that the project would create employment for hundreds of thousands of people in the region, and that the government would not shy away from making any sacrifices necessary to bring the development of the region up to par with the western part of the country.
The Silvan Dam is a part of the broader GAP program, an ambitious plan to irrigate some 10,600 square kilometers. Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek explained that the government had set aside a huge budget of 1.4 billion Turkish Liras for GAP, but that at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s request the number has been raised to an average of 3.5-4 billion liras per annum. Exports from the southeastern region have increased tenfold since 2002 to $689 million, Şimşek said, emphasizing both the development and the importance of the region.
Forestry and Waterworks Minster Veysel Eroğlu said he sometimes jumps out of bed in the morning saying “Silvan, Silvan.” He noted that the dam at Silvan would be 174.5 meters high and have a volume of 8.5 million cubic meters.
“Building the dam isn’t enough, however. We need two huge 11.5 kilometer-long tunnels, seven meters wide, to provide irrigation,” Eroğlu said. At the close of the ground-breaking ceremony, Eroğlu signed a contract stating that the dam would be completed by Sept. 9, 2016, before 12 a.m.