by ERN 
European Rivers Network

The Ysufeli dam project
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An overview

The Yusufeli dam and hydro-electric project is planned to be built on the Coruh river
in North East Turkey. It would form part of a wider scheme on the Coruh river
- the associated Artvin dam would be built later in a second phase, and two other
dams at Borcka and Muratli form separate projects. The Yusufeli dam would take
7.8 years to construct and would have a generating capacity of 540 MW.
The Yusufeli project would directly affect 15,000 people, mostly ethnic minority
Georgians, forcing many of them from their homes. Up to another 15,000 people could
also be indirectly affected. 18 towns and villages, including the town of Yusufeli, will
be completely or partially submerged by the dam. Much archaeological heritage
would also be lost: Yusufeli's history includes the Barhal church, Ishan fortress
and church, Demirkent fortress and church, Cevreli-Meydan citadel and Kilickaya
fortress. The Yusufeli dam would also have negative impacts on the Coruh river
and its surrounding environment which currently remains undisturbed. The area
surrounding the river is rich in wildlife, including threatened red vultures, brown
bear, wild boar, wolf, jackal, and pine marten.
Environmental Impact Assessment and Resettlement
Assessments and proposals for the construction of the four dams and hydro-electric
power plants were based solely on technical and economic criteria. There are
concerns that the natural environment and social impacts were not sufficiently
assessed. In addition, assessments were carried out in 1985 and have not been
updated to reflect changed conditions in the region.
The UK Government is refusing to release the Environmental Impact Assessment
(EIA) and the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) for Yusufeli, denying both the British
public and locally affected communities their right to scrutinise and comment upon
the environmental, social and economic impacts of the dam. Reports from the region
suggest that resettlement is being pushed ahead without public consultation. Dams
elsewhere in Turkey, such as the Birecik and Attaturk dams, have been plagued by
resettlement problems. These include lack of adequate consultation and significant
numbers of those displaced being left worse off than before, in contravention of international standards.


Friends of the Earth : their briefing note on the Yusufeli project (PDF file)


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