'Water tribunal' condemns Turkish dam projects

16th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

The international tribunal -- made up of academics and environmental activists -- convened as part of an initiative to raise awareness on water resources management ahead of the fifth World Water Forum, to begin in Istanbul next week.

Istanbul -- A symbolic environmental tribunal slammed Turkey Saturday over three dam projects on grounds that their construction would destroy natural and historical riches and displace thousands of people.

The international tribunal -- made up of academics and environmental activists -- convened as part of an initiative to raise awareness on water resources management ahead of the fifth World Water Forum, to begin in Istanbul next week.

"The Turkish government has always been the victim of dam fetishism," Ulrike Dufner from the German foundation Heinrich Boll Stiftung, which co-sponsored the initiative, said in a written statement.

Turkish plans to build a "countless number" of new dams with controversial environmental and social consequences are "beyond reason," she said.

The tribunal urged Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government to adopt a new policy of "public benefit," balancing economic considerations with social and ecological factors, the statement said.

The government, it said, should revise its energy policies and incorporate civic society and local communities into the decision-making process.

The dams the tribunal targeted are planned to be built in the Munzur Valley, a natural park in eastern Turkey, at an ancient historical site on the banks of the Tigris River in the southeast, and on the Coruh River in the northeast.

The tribunal lamented also "the apparent lack of concern of the Brazilian government in paying attention" to environmental concerns over dam projects on the Madeira River in the Amazon forests.

On another case dealing with "the dramatic environmental situation in Mexico," the tribunal slammed "the governmental breaches that have damaged the country and the rights of its people."

AFP/Expatica

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