Before/after photos show destruction of hydro-electric plant construction in eastern Turkey
ERZURUM – Doğan News Agency
This photo shows the Çukurbağlar neighborhood after the project began.The construction of a hydro-electric plant (HES) has irrecoverably damaged a neighborhood in the eastern province of Erzurum, as before and after images once again bring questions to the agenda about the devastating effects of such projects.
Activists have criticized the project, which is planned to be completed by the end of this year, for damaging the natural environment. Locals, meanwhile, have said the authorities have avoided paying the necessary expropriation price, Doğan News Agency reported.
In response to a parliamentary question, Forestry and Waterworks Minister Veysel Eroğlu said a total of 315 new HES plants had been built in Turkey in the past two years, according to daily Hürriyet.
This photo shows the Çukurbağlar neighborhood before the project began.
“All HES projects aim to produce energy. We target the protection of the ecological balance and also the decreasing of our dependence on foreign energy,” Eroğlu said, in a written response to a question from the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Batman deputy Ayla Akat Ata.
The controversial Erzurum plant is being built in the villages of Taşlıköy, Ormanağzı and Çataksu in the district of Olur, 150 kilometers away from Erzurum city center. The area’s climatic conditions - at a height of 600 meters above sea level - allow the organic production of many kinds of vegetables and fruits.
Sources said the 3,000-hectare land belonging to locals was set to be publicized, with the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) offering low prices to the owners.
Lawsuits filed by villagers due to low expropriation prices are ongoing.
Villagers said construction began immediately before the cases concluded and that the area has been turned from “heaven into desert.”
“The green Ayvalı region where organic agriculture work was conducted has become unrecognizable over three years. We expect the unjust treatment to be compensated soon in the regions where the environment has been decimated,” one local said.
Minister Eroğlu said the protection of nature and water was of primary importance to the HES projects, adding that attention was also paid to the use of water by the locals and animals that live there.
“The HES projects aim to produce water for agricultural production, tap water, and water to protect the ecological balance,” he added.
Eroğlu denied claims that such plants were being built without the consent of locals, adding that these plants produced renewable energy without causing environmental pollution or greenhouse gas emissions.