Yusufeli Dam Project, Turkey
(posted to the Ramsar Forum, 13 March 2002)
From: Craig Bennett [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, March 13, 2002 7:40 PM
Subject: [Ramsar Forum] from FOE: AMEC PULLS OUT OF YUSUFELI DAM IN TURKEY
Press Release From Friends of the Earth, The Ilisu Dam Campaign, The Kurdish Human Rights Project and The Cornerhouse
For Immediate Release Wednesday 13 March 2002
AMEC PULLS OUT OF YUSUFELI DAM IN TURKEY
24 hours before the launch of a major campaign against AMEC's participation in the controversial Yusufeli Dam in Turkey , the company has announced its withdrawal .
Hannah Griffiths, Corporates Campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: "We are delighted with the news that UK construction company AMEC has pulled out of this controversial dam in Turkey. Corporations planning to help construct large dam projects must make themselves more transparent and accountable. They must adopt the international guidelines of the World Commission on Dams and make their environmental impact assessments open to public scrutiny."
"AMEC's withdrawal now casts doubt over the future of this project. We call on all members of the consortium to reconsider this project, including SPIE Batignolles TP, of which AMEC is a substantial shareholder."
Nick Hildyard, Director of the Ilisu Dam Campaign said: "This is superb news - we congratulate AMEC and ask them to folllow up by encouraging Spie to withdraw too. But once more the UK government has been let off the hook from setting robust social and environmental criteria before giving credit guarantee for developments."
"We hope that the ECGD will take steps to ensure that its reputation is not further damaged by having to consider controversial projects such as these. The UK government must also put the ECGD on a firm ethical footing and ensure that UK taxpayers money does not contribute to projects that cause enormous environmental and social damage."
Kerim Yildiz, Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project said: "We are delighted that AMEC has withdrawn from this project. For minorities on the ground whose homes livelihood and ways of life are threatened by this project this a huge victory."
Notes:  If built, the Yusufeli Dam would flood 18 towns and villages and precious archeological sites such as churches, fortresses and a citadel. Currently undisturbed habitat - home to endangered species such as the red vulture and brown bear - will also be lost. The project would drown the homes of15,000 people and displace a further 15,000. Reports from the region suggest that affected communities have not been properly consulted and that adequate plans for resettlement have not been drawn up.
 AMEC had applied to the UK Government for £68 million of public funds to underwrite the project. The Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) is currently considering this application. The international construction consortium also involves French company Spie. AMEC owns 46% of Spie, and has an option to buy the remainder this year.
Reply 13 March from Uygar Ozesmi, PhD
I applaud and am very happy about AMECs decision to pull out of Yusufeli Dam Lake (especially if they can also convince SPIE). I do not like dams and would be very happy if these high modernist projects would be replaced by more sustainable and local solutions.
However, I feel obliged to add to the following press release having worked in researching the wants and desires of local people for resettlement (Yes! the Turkish State Hydraulic Works did work even with dam opponents in this project to their credit).
Yusufeli dam project is an outstanding example in which local people directly and indirectly affected by dam construction have been consulted about resettlement where multiple methods of assessment have been made with face to face surveys, interviews, cognitive studies, focus groups and community meetings with more than 10% of people representing all groups of the total impacted people. There are no minorities living in the Yusufeli region as defined by international conventions or communities of Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin.
Did local people want the dam? Most of them did not, but more so they did not want the issue to linger but be resolved ASAP. To my experience "no dam with a dam threat" is as painful to them as a "dam".
Most of them were convinced that the dam will be built somehow sooner or later. So they wanted fair and quick compensation with resettlement issues solved.
As with wildlife, as usual it would be a disaster but there are bigger disasters happening for wildlife and WETLANDS in Turkey currently such as the construction of the North Coastal Highway, coal and fuel oil based power plants, increasing consumption per capita and culture of consumerism hand in hand with population increase, intensification and expansion of agriculture, inefficient irrigation projects. One and each of them are bigger issues than Yusufeli Dam which do not draw as much attention from FOE or others since they are not easy targets. However if Northern Enlightened Civil Society really wants to help then Northern Consumption would be the best target to work on. Still I personally do appreciate even this kind of campaign work.
When one enters the valley the issues are not as clear as they seem from high grounds in the North.
Uygar Ozesmi, PhD
Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Chair of Environmental Science
Department of Environmental Engineering
Erciyes University, 38039 Kayseri TURKEY
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