Police use tear gas against hydro plant demo as minister expresses dismay at protesters
Police sprayed tear gas at protesters as they tried to enter the congress building in Istanbul, Feb 13. DHA photoPolice used tear gas against a group of environmental activists protesting against the opening ceremony of a dam and hydroelectric power plant (HES) fair in Istanbul on Feb. 13, as Forestry and Waterworks Minister Veysel Eroğlu rebuked the protesters as 'impossible to understand.”
Protesters had earlier condemned the government’s bid to build hydroelectric plants across Turkey, denouncing the environmental costs of the dams constructed in waterways and rivers in green valleys.
But a police officer sprayed tear gas at the protesters as they tried to enter the congress building, to which some protesters responded by throwing stones and plastic bottles.
Eroğlu, who made the keynote speech, expressed his dismay with the protesters. “It’s impossible to understand those who oppose the HES. Across the world, countries including the U.S. and Canada have used their hydroelectric power potentials of up to 95 percent. Turkey, meanwhile, was using 18 percent [of its potential] in 2003,” Eroğlu told a journalist who inquired about the protests.
“The HES are the insurance of electricity in Turkey. It’s not right to oppose them,” he said.
Eroğlu also vowed that the government would plant more than the number of trees that it will clear for such projects as dams. “We will enforce the planting of five trees for every one that is cut down. We also will reorganize the valleys,” he said.
‘Istanbul will not face a shortage’
Meanwhile, Eroğlu also touched on concerns that Istanbul would be facing a water shortage this summer, despite the critical decrease of water levels in the city’s reservoirs due to the lack of rainfall and snow so far this winter.
He said the level of water was currently at about 30 percent in Istanbul’s dams, but the necessary measures have been taken to cope with the water needs of Istanbul residents next summer.
“We have made an assessment and taken all the precautions possible with the Istanbul mayor, the head of the State Water Affairs and our [ministry] undersecretary. There is nothing to be worried about,” he said.
Eroğlu also rejected claims that the ongoing drought in the reservoirs was related to the booming concrete in Istanbul.
“There will be no water cuts and no problems in Istanbul this summer,” he assured.
The water levels in Istanbul’s 10 reservoirs were at 91.1 percent in April 2013, but have decreased steadily since then.