In south-east Turkey lies the ancient city of Hasankeyf on the banks of the Tigris River. This ancient town is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements on Earth, almost 12,000 years old. It contains thousands of caves, churches and tombs. However, this historic relic of human civilization might soon be lost. A majority of the settlement will be flooded to make way for a controversial dam project, reports The Guardian.
Construction of the dam has faced severe backlash
Construction work on the dam and its hydroelectric power plant first began in 2006. Now, nearing completion, it will lead to the destruction of Hasankeyf. The residents of the town and environmental activists put up a fight, hoping to save it, but the Turkish government did not budge. There was even an attempt to challenge the project at the European Court of Human Rights but it remained unsuccessful.The government has given residents time till October 8 to evacuate.
The project was first conceived in the 1950s
The dam project was first conceived as early as the 1950s and has been surrounded by controversy ever since. When the dam is finally built, it will be the fourth biggest dam in Turkey and will reportedly generate 4,200 gigawatts of electricity on a yearly basis. However, this will come at a huge cost. The project will also lead to the flooding of 199 settlements in the region, thousands of human-made caves and hundreds of historical and religious sites. Nearly 80,000 people will be displaced.
There will also be a significant amount of environmental damage. Biodiversity will suffer and the numerous vulnerable and endangered species will be threatened because of the construction. Supporters of the dam project believe that it will foster development and also create jobs. However, critics believe that the project will cause irreversible damage.