Hydroelectric power plants destroy Kurdistan’s environment

The chairman of the environmental association Çev-Der in the province of Van, Ali Kalçık, describes the dramatic consequences of the construction of hydroelectric power plants for the ecology in the region.

Due to heavy rains, severe flooding has recently occurred in Zilan area in Erciş district, in Bendimahi area in Muradiye district and Kanispi area in Çatak district. The floods killed hundreds of animals, destroyed stables and houses and devastated farmland. Once the Zilan, Bendimahi and Kanispi areas were covered with dense forests and were home to thousands of different plant species. With the deforestation of the region, the construction of hydroelectric power plants and dams, natural disasters were downright invited. Every year since then, floods have occurred time and again.

In the district of Çatak alone, 15 new dam projects are being built. In Erciş four hydroelectric power plants are being built in the Zilan Valley. In Muradiye a hydroelectric power station is being built in the Mendimahi Valley. Dozens of other dams have also been built on the Karasu, Deliçay, Engil, Güzeldere, Memedik and Karmış rivers. These rivers are the main sources of drinking water in the region. In all these places, the dams cause environmental disasters.

The region at the mercy of the flood

The flood of 30 June in the Zilan region in Erciş caused severe damage, particularly to the Kırkpınar settlement. 74 sheep drowned, the roads were destroyed and agriculture suffered severe losses.

On July 5, two people were seriously injured and many animals were killed in floods in Çatak, Ipekyolu, Tuşba, Başkale and Bahçesaray. Landslides occurred and rivers burst their banks. Tents and containers of earthquake victims in Başkale were also destroyed.

On July 10, another flood occurred in the Zilan region. Among other things, three houses were destroyed and a large part of the harvest was lost. On July 12, 16 houses in Muradiye and the road to Van were damaged by a flood. On 13 July a flood occurred in Zorewa (Çetintaş) area in the Erciş district. 36 small animals died, fields were destroyed on a large scale.

"Water made into a commodity"

The chairman of the environmental association of Van, Ali Kalçık, says: "If you disturb the path of nature, it takes its revenge. When water is turned into capital, the regime's supporters use it to make profits, but the people who live in nature traditionally get the environmental revenge. In this country, every drop of water has been turned into a commodity, and the day will come when there will be a catastrophe and many lives will be extinguished.

The floods of recent days are a concrete example of the imminent danger, says Kalçık and continues: "The dams in Zilan have turned water into a commodity. For the profit of a few, the water was polluted and the fauna and flora destroyed. This is a new crime in a story of massacres and brutality. In Van, the water authority (DSI) has made the region uninhabitable with hundreds of hydroelectric power plants. The money goes into the pockets of AKP supporters. These power plants are supposedly built to produce energy, but Van is the capital of the sun, we have 300 days of sunshine a year. So the system could be renewed with cheap and clean energy. Water is not a commodity."