Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wasted resources?

The Official Gazette announced yesterday that the Prime Minister has authorized Turkey's State Waterworks Authority (DSİ) to coordinate the evacuation of areas to be flooded by the Ilısu Dam. This directive includes work at Hasankeyf to reinforce the geological foundation of the castle, protect monuments that will remain on site, and remove other monuments to a museum in the new town.

The lower city of Hasankeyf is one of the few places in the world where scholars and tourists alike can still explore the layout of a medieval Islamic city much as it was in the 15th century.

But the Government of Turkey appears determined to flood this living treasure of Islamic civilization.

Does the Ilısu Project optimize the long-term value of Turkey's economic resources? Very likely not.

The direct revenue from the Ilısu Hydroelectric Plant would potentially approach 500 million USD at current average rates of 0.12-0.14 USD per kWh, assuming it produces at maximum capacity of 3800 GWh a year.

On the energy front, aggressive development of solar power and/or implementation of the step dam model (proposed by engineers at METU) would deliver a comparable level of energy security without flooding Hasankeyf.

On the economic front, in 2009, tourism and travel generated combined economic activity equal to 10.2 percent of Turkey’s GDP. If the people of Hasankeyf are allowed to maintain their present homes, they could pursue sustainable development strategies and contribute significantly to this fast-growing and vital sector.
As the only place in the world meeting 9 of 10 UNESCO criteria for world heritage listing, Hasankeyf could help make Mardin, Midyat, and environs one of Turkey’s most valuable tourism resources. In 2007, Cappadocia reaped more than 600 million USD from tourism. With Hasankeyf as its signature attraction, the Tur Abdin Plateau could fare equally well.

Why not energy plus tourism?


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