Locals resist as company initiates hydroelectric plant construction in Turkey’s Black Sea region
ARTVİN – Doğan News Agency
DHA photoLocals have gathered to resist the building of a hydroelectric power plant in the Ardanuç district of Turkey’s Black Sea province of Artvin, as an energy company dispatched its first set of drilling machines to the district. Residents claim the move is “unlawful” as there is an ongoing judicial process investigating the legality of the project.
An energy company that is planning to build a hydroelectric power plant over the Bulanık stream in Ardanuç’s Akarsu village brought its drilling machines to the region early March 29.
This marks the company’s third attempt to initiate construction, after local resistance had previously forced the firm to pull its employees.
Upon hearing the arrival of the drilling machines, local residents and members of the Brotherhood of Streams Platform gathered around the construction site to protest the start of the plant’s construction, which they claim is illegal.
“The judicial process is not over. The company’s arrival is unlawful and we want them to leave as soon as possible,” the platform’s spokesperson Kamile Kaya told reporters.
Underlining that the Bulanık stream is the source of all economic activities in the area, Kaya underlined that locals are protesting against the power plant in order to avoid becoming economic migrants.
“Agriculture and stockbreeding is possible thanks to the waters of this stream. If the stream is taken away from us, our lives here will end. They force us to migrate but we do not want to become migrants,” Kaya stressed.
A group of ten representatives from the platform, including Kaya, met with Ardanuç’s district governor, Abdil Koç, to demand the withdrawal of the machines, but their request was rejected by the official. Meanwhile, gendarmerie teams were also dispatched to the region in order to take security measures.
The move to start the construction of the Bulanık hydroelectric power plant just a little over a month after the construction of a controversial mine in Artvin’s Cerattepe district was halted following days-long protests by hundreds of demonstrators.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met with a delegation of locals on Feb. 24 and agreed to terminate the construction until a judicial process was completed.