Turkey may restart Ilisu dam project

Turkey plans to resume work on the controversial Ilisu hydroelectric dam project on the river Tigris, following a six-month funding suspension, the Guardian reported, quoting environment minister Veysel Eroglu. Campaigners against the dam – who believed it had sustained a potentially fatal blow last December -- argue that it would displace tens of thousands of people, destroy habitats and drown priceless archaeological treasures.


German, Swiss and Austrian institutions announced at the end of last year that they were withholding finance because questions about the dam’s environmental and social impact had not been addressed. The governments agreed that 150 World Bank conditions on the environment, heritage sites, neighbouring states and human relocation must be met.


Turkey says the dam – which is planned to generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity — is an essential part of a plan to bring economic prosperity to the country’s south-east, long blighted by conflict between the army and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters. Planned in the 1980s, the Ilisu project — due for completion in 2013 — is part of a wider network of dams known as the South-eastern Anatolia Project.


Eroglu said that the necessary funds would be made available and that “important work” had been carried out to bring the dam into line with international standards. His statement was not immediately confirmed by the project’s backers.


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