Agriculture dying under coal power plants
In our country, coal power plants are being opened one after the other. Almost every day we say, “Agriculture has died; we import everything.” To be able to understand the relationship between the two, let us look at how coal investments affect agriculture.
First of all, hectares of agricultural land are dug for coal mining; the productive cover of the soil that has formed over thousands of years disappears. Additionally, the area is dehydrated to prevent floods on the mining site. This disrupts the water system of the region, leaving agricultural lands without water. During the dehydration process, the water that comes into contact with coal becomes acidic and laden with heavy metals. This water reaches surrounding rivers, pollutes drinking water supplies and mixes with the groundwater. This acidic water cannot be used in agriculture.
The ash that coal power plants produce cover fruits and vegetables, poisoning them and causing them to dry up.
Coal power plants use large amounts of water to cool their systems. They share the creeks, lakes, ponds and underground water that farmers use for irrigation.
The air polluted by coal plants causes acid rain, which not only harms the forest cover but also negatively affects the ability of the soil to retain water, which leads to erosion.
The nitric acid coming out of the plant’s chimney distributes heavy metals and causes them to pollute the earth, which then passes on to humans through plants.
Coal power plants damage the health of the soil while decreasing production and productivity.
The land is destroyed because of acid rain, while agricultural productivity also decreases. Poisonous dust coming from power plant chimneys also dries up trees. The poisonous effect on the land from heavy metals that are spread by the power plants may cause agriculture to disappear altogether.
In light of this information, you would expect that Anatolia, which has been the cradle of agriculture for thousands of years, would be protected from coal power plants.
Instead, though, the number of coal power plants or plants slated to open is 60... These projects are mostly in Adana, the İskenderun Bay area, Çanakkale, İzmir, Zonguldak-Bartın, the Konya Closed Basin and Thrace. In some places, there is more than one power plant scheduled.
For instance, in Konya’s Karapınar and Ereğli districts, as well as in Karaman, where there are coal reserves, agricultural fields cover 500,000 hectares. In 2013, Karaman provided one-fifth of Turkey’s apple production.
The province is second in Turkey in terms of apple production and first in terms of the number of apple trees.
In Ereğli and Karapınar, which sit on lignite reserves, vegetable fields take up a quarter of the province’s total. But if a coal power plant is built here, the amount of water that will be drawn from underground is so high that there will be no means to irrigate farms stretching over an area of 5,700 hectares.
Now, in this case, since we will not be able to eat the coal when there is no food left, is what is underground more precious than what is above the ground? Of course the ground and what is grown on the ground are more valuable.
Have a look at the “Coal Hurts” campaign of the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA) and make a call on the Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry to prevent mining in agricultural zones.
You can also support the campaign by signing a petition at change.org/komuruzer or fill out the petition at komuruzer.com and mail or fax it to the Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry.