No victims in Ilısu dam project that displaced thousands, Turkish ministry says

Turkey's Agriculture and Forestry Ministry has said there are no victims of a dam project in the southeastern province of Batman, which has partially submerged an ancient town and forced thousands of families to evacuate the region.

The Ilısu Dam has left parts of the 12,000-year-old town of Hasankeyf under water and forced thousands of families to evacuate their homes, some of whom have qualifying for government housing nearby. The town’s ancient remains have been transported to a nearby plane for display.

“Following meticulous efforts, the Batman Governor’s Office provided rent assistance to families in need and further resettled families in new public housing, thereby preventing any victimisation,” Diken news site on Wednesday quoted Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli as saying.

“In order not to aggrieve the citizens of Hasankeyf, the electricity in the town was cut off after all of the citizens were evacuated,’’ Pakdemirli said.

Locals have voiced criticism over the restrictive criteria for qualifying for public housing, which was denied to civil servants. Moreover, only homeowners living in the area between 2013 and 2016 were found eligible, they said.

“In order for citizens to be legally eligible (for public housing), they have to be residents of the downtown district,” Pakdemirli said.

Furthermore, those who were not part of a family dwelling or without registered residence in the town were denied home ownership, he added.

Construction on the Ilısu Dam project began in 2006 and has been steeped in controversy, with environmental groups voicing concerns about the displacement of local residents and the impact on Hasankeyf and the region’s valuable biodiversity.
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