Turkey Resumes Dam Project

The Turkish government will revive a $1.6 billion dam project on the Tigris River despite concerns that it will displace tens of thousands of people, damage wildlife habitat, and destroy historic archaeological sites. Preparations for the Ilisu hydroelectric dam were suspended for six months after financial institutions in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria announced that they were withholding financial support because of environmental concerns. But Veysel Eroglu, Turkey’s environmental minister, said the financing would be made available for what the government considers an important part of a $32 billion plan to boost the economy in the nation’s southeastern corner, a region disrupted by armed conflict between the government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party. Eroglu said improvements have been made to assure the project will meet international standards. Turkish officials say the dam, part of a larger proposed network of dams called the Southeastern Anatolia Project, would generate 1,200 MW of electricity after it is completed in 2013. But environmental advocates warn that the project would inundate as many as 80 towns, villages, and hamlets, and displace up to 80,000 people.