Tons of explosives unearthed in pasture area after suspension of HES project
Serkan OCAK ISTANBUL / Radikal
The field where company workers buried the explosives was next to a beaten track and only 100 meters away from a picnic area, according to villagers.A construction company building a hydroelectric plant (HES) on the Deliçay River in the eastern Erzincan province has dangerously left tons of explosives buried in a pasturearea after the project was suspended by a court decision.
After company officials left the zone, the inhabitants of villages surrounding the river - located at the foot of the Munzur Mountains - have unearthed first 12 tons, and then another 1300 kilograms of dynamite originally planned to be used in the project.
Villagers said the field where company workers buried the explosives was next to a beaten track and only 100 meters away from a picnic area.
The latest stash of 1300 kilos of dynamite was discovered after one of the company’s workers who tipped off the villagers, only a week after 12 ton amount was unearthed.
“We went and dug where they had buried the explosives and then delivered them to the Gendarmerie. It was 12 tons of dynamite. The regiment commander was furious with the company officials. He asked them what would have happened if someone had laid their hands on it,” said the muhtar of the Sarıyazı village, Binali Araz.
Araz explained that the area where the second stash was found was a grazing area. “People also walk by there. There is a picnic area 100 meters from there. It is also very close to our sacred worship areas. They have invaded the pasture area,” he said.
Old Armenian settlement
Lawyer Ümit Altaş from the Deliçay Platform, an association defending the rights of the villagers in the area, explained the company did not comply with the conditions indicated in the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (ÇED). Altaş also added that when the company left after the court stopped the project upon complaints, they hinted that they would probably return.
“They have established the construction site on a pasture outside the area were they had a construction permit. And before they left, they buried the explosives, probably thinking ‘we will return anyway.’ What would have happened if the project was entirely annulled and the dynamite was not to found?” Altaş asked.
He also said that the company stopped paying workers after the suspension of the construction, which incited one of them to tell the villagers the place where the explosives had been buried.
Altaş also explained that the area was an ancient Armenian settlement and two areas of pilgrimage were not located far from it.
For its part, the parent company rejected any responsibility for the stash of explosives, adding that the subcontractor dealing with the construction did not inform them about the incidents.
Dozens of dams that are part of the HES projects threaten untouched areas, particularly in central and eastern Turkey, as villagers are usually left unable to compete against multi-million dollar contracts signed between the state and private companies.