Tuesday, November 13, 2007

About Hasankeyf and the Ilisu dam

I copy and paste from the AquaSav newsletter:

Arbitrary expropriation started at contested Ilisu dam site
Berlin, 23.10.2007 - The European Ilisu campaign has learned during a site visit, that without the knowledge of responsible authorities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the Turkish government has begun to expropriate the first affected villages at the controversial Ilisu dam site on the Tigris river in a move that violates conditions imposed by European export credit agencies.
Expropriated people are in despair and overall resentment by the affected population is growing against the Ilisu dam in the southeast of Turkey, as Christine Eberlein of the Swiss organisation "Berne Declaration" and member of the European Ilisu campaign learned when she visited the villages of Ilisu and Karabayir in mid-October. Her report reveals the miserable compensation packages offered and the unfair processes by which the Turkish authorities are forcing the affected families to resettle.
By attaching 150 conditions to their approval of export credit guarantees, the governments of Germany, Austria and Switzerland intended to ensure that the resettlement victims receive fair compensations and new income possibilities. Although the final guarantee contracts have not yet been signed, the Turkish government started the expropriations - completely ignoring these conditions.
No adequate settlement alternatives were offered to the affected families, as the conditions demand, but merely one scanty piece of mountainous land was offered. As a result, all families have preferred cash compensation, which is however, far too low to provide for a new life. The loss of income from tourism is not compensated for at all. The expropriated families feel cheated and have taken their complaints to the courts. It is especially ironic that the head of Ilisu village, who came to Germany, Austria and Switzerland last year at the invitation of the Ilisu consortium to promote the construction of the dam, has now voiced his annoyance with the expropriation process in a letter to European authorities and asks for rapid support. “What shall we work in town? How can we make a living in the future?“ he asks for the desperate village population.
"The first badly run expropriations reveal the whole tragedy of the Ilisu dam project", states Heike Drillisch of the German non-governmental organisation WEED, which has monitored the Ilisu dam project for many years. NGOs alerted the export credit agencies (ECAs) to the lack of adequate resettlement land a long time ago. “It is a shame that the agencies believed obviously unsubstantiated assertions by Turkish officials. The affected population is now faced with ruin.” Christine Eberlein adds: “The conditions are completely worthless if they can be ignored so easily by the Turkish government. The ECAs now say that they take our concerns very seriously. Had they been more diligent in their assessment of the project in the first place, they would have easily foreseen the problems that are now arising, and would never have become involved.” The NGOs demand that the export credit agencies press for corrections to the expropriation process and insist that conditions be honoured.
Background:
The governments of Germany, Austria and Switzerland approved export credit guarantees for the Ilisu project of some €500 million at the end of March 2007, enabling Andritz AG (A), Ed Züblin GmbH (GER) and Swiss companies Alstom, Colenco, Maggia and Stucky, to profit from the project. The private banks DekaBank (GER), Bank Austria Creditanstalt (A) and Société Générale (F) signed financing contracts in August 2007. The final guarantee contracts have not been signed yet however.
The Ilisu dam project will affect between 55,000 and 78,000 people, mainly Kurds. At least 11,000 people will lose all of their land. The expropriation has started in the villages next to the construction site, including Ilisu and Karabayir. Their resettlement has been called a test for the expropriation of the villages in the future reservoir area, which will take place at a later stage.

Further information:

The fact-finding mission report by C. Eberlein and the letter by the head of the Ilisu village, as well as further project information can be found at www.evb.ch/ilisu and www.weed-online.org/ilisu

Evaluation of the conditions attached to the Ilisu dam and their implementation
+++ Berne Declaration +++ WEED +++ Eca-Watch Austria +++
28 september 2007
A comprehensive analysis by the international Ilisu campaign indicates that the conditions attached to the export credit guarantees granted by the governments of Germany, Austria and Switzerland for the Ilisu dam are far from meeting international standards. The report, released by Berne Declaration, WEED and Eca-Watch Austria in collaboration with FERN, The Corner House and Kurdish Human Rights Project finds numerous omissions and inadequacies in the ToRs and approval process for the Ilisu Dam Project. In addition, the report reveals that the Turkish government did not even apply the conditions when starting expropriation in the Ilisu region.
The Ilisu dam will affect up to 78,000 people, mainly Kurds, in Southeast Turkey, will have massive environmental impacts and lead to the destruction of invaluable cultural heritage. It breaches international law as the Turkish government has not consulted the neighboring states although the project will severely affect Iraq's (and to a lesser extent Syria's) access to water, and the vast majority of the local population strictly opposes the project.
Conditions attached to the approval of the Ilisu Dam by export credit agencies (other wise known as Terms of Reference or ToR) concerning the resettlement of local communities drastically fail to reach World Bank standards. Turkish resettlement and compensation laws were redrafted in 2006, however these too show serious deficiencies. As the ToR however are not imbedded into Turkey's legal framework, any promises for income restoration et. al. made in the ToR that go beyond the Turkish laws, are not legally enforceable for the affected population. In addition, a sound cost-benefit-analysis of the project is absent, and benefit sharing mechanisms as demanded by the World Bank are limited to the construction of infrastructure and mosques.
Although the ToR take into account some criticism expressed by non-governmental organizations, basic information for a serious planning is missing regarding relocation, environment, cultural heritage. Therefore no authorities in any European country, neither the World Bank would even have accepted the project for appraisal. The environmental ToR clearly show vast contradictions and the unscientific manner by which the conditions were created:
Despite key information missing from the environmental impact assessment, the ToR confirmed at the same time that no severe damages to the environment will occur. On the one hand, the ToR demand further studies; on the other hand there is no clarification about what consequences further studies may have on the project. The ToR's conditions concerning cultural heritage protection totally ignore the significance of the highly valued cultural sites threatened by flooding, and above all, the ToR on riparian states do not adequately respect international law.
In addition to deficiencies recognised in the ToR, the analyses by the Ilisu campaign highlight deficiencies in the implementation of the conditions that have already become evident. For example the expropriation of properties in the first villages has already begun, albeit without the structures envisaged for determining compensation and the grievance mechanism as planned in the ToR being in place. Very low compensation amounts were offered to the affected people so the majority of them have already sought redress in courts. A central problem of the relocation planning is that the Turkish legislation on resettlement makes it extremely unattractive for the affected population to participate in a governmental relocation program. Most resettlers will therefore opt for cash compensation and relocate on
their own to the big cities in the area. City mayors however have emphasized repeatedly that they cannot cope with the influx of new residents and a further
growth of the slums is to be feared. The new relocation law does not correct this deficit. Moreover the NGOs highlight that out of the total relocation budget of USD 1.02 billion, only USD 25 million will be allocated for the income restoration. The remaining money will serve to compensate the small group of landowners, who possess the largest part of the land, and to reconstruct the destroyed infrastructure.
The non-government organizations therefore demand that no final export credit guarantee contracts will be signed and no credits disbursed until a comprehensive environmental impact assessment, a resettlement plan and a plan to save the cultural heritage have been completed in line with World Bank standards. Such assessment and plans must have been agreed to by the affected people and an agreement by neighbouring nation states must be reached before export guarantees can be finalised.

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