NEWS CENTER – The 21-year AKP government has been in power for the last 8 years with a common alliance with the MHP. In the last May 14 elections, the People’s Alliance regained its parliamentary majority, but with a serious decline in AKP votes. Having lost most of its votes to the MHP and partially to the Welfare Party, AKP came out with losses in the election. Turkey, which has spent most of the 21 years under the sole rule of the AKP, has received great wounds from economy to democracy, from human rights to ecology. Now, as we go to the second round of the elections, we will look at the destruction of AKP and its partner MHP in the field of ecology for only one year.
AN ANNUAL ECOLOGICAL REPORT
In this news, which we have prepared based on the 2022 Ecological Disputes Report prepared by Polen Ecology, we will also discuss the environmental consequences that emerged with the destruction in only one year of 21 years. In addition to these, we will also evaluate other environmental disasters caused by debris removal after the earthquakes that took place on February 6, 2023 and after.
According to the 2022 Ecological Conflicts Report; The impact of the ecological destruction covered both socio-economic and environmental, public and worker health areas in 2022. From heavy industrial production to the use of toxic chemicals, there has been planned pollution, and macro-scale pollution events have largely determined the scale of exploitation.
Here are some of the events impacted by the climate crisis in 2022:
- The sandstorm and dust cloud coming over Iraq and Bashure Kurdistan affected the Qileban (Uludere) district of Sirnex. While the visibility decreased to 100 meters due to the sandstorm, the citizens of the district had a hard time. In the district, where the weather got dark due to the sandstorm, people had difficulty getting out. While the resulting dust cloud reduced the visibility at some points, the balconies of the houses and vehicles were covered with dust.
- Tekirdağ Namık Kemal University (NKU) Faculty of Agriculture, Biosystem Engineering Department of Land and Water Resources, Lecturer Prof. Dr. Halim Orta, stating that the last snow and rains are not enough, said that there is a drought in the underground and surface waters of Thrace.
- Against wild mining in Meletî (Malatya), the Council of State decided in favor of the villagers. After the nature struggle of the Esan Eczacıbaşı company against the mining activities of the villagers, the decision of the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change ‘There is no need to implement the provisions of the EIA Regulation’, which was given for the 4th group mining exploration license in the 6th Department of the State Council, Hudut Mahallesi (Village) was unanimously passed into law. found it unconstitutional.
- Political disagreements over the important watershed that starts from Turkey and reaches Iraq through Syria and Iran, and Baghdad’s own administration deficiencies, deeply affect the animals and people living in the wetlands here. In Iraq, which has experienced the greatest water shortage in the last 40 years, buffalo herders on the banks of the Tigris River lost their animals due to salinization and drought. The deep poverty they were dragged into forced many to leave their homes and migrate to nearby cities in search of work. Iraq relies on the Tigris-Euphrates river basin for drinking water, irrigation and sanitation for its entire population of 40 million.
- The Nilüfer Dam, which supplies Bursa’s drinking water and was built on the Nilüfer Stream and has been in service since 2007, with an annual capacity of 60 million cubic meters, has been adversely affected by the recent seasonal drought.
- During the Climate Diplomacy Week of the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey held in Antalya, it was said that the number of days with a heat wave in Antalya may increase 6 times until 2050.
- Tecer Lake, which is located in Sêwas (Sivas) five kilometers away from the district center and called Kellah Lake by the local people, has completely dried up due to the effect of summer and the heat. Sêwas-Tecer Lake, which was a bird’s paradise 20 years ago, loses half a meter of water during the winter months and becomes covered with salt in the summer due to the effect of global warming.
- The flow rates of Tunca and Meriç rivers, two important water sources of Edirne, fell to the bottom levels due to hot air and water consumption. Wide sand islets and grass clumps were formed in the Meriç River, which started in Bulgaria and passed through Edirne and overflowed in the winter months.
- Due to the drought caused by climate change, most of which is caused by the use of fossil fuels, the flow rate of water in almost all rivers across Turkey has decreased by up to 70 percent. 60% of the lakes dried up. In the “Lakes and Wetlands Action Plan 2017-2023” report, attention is drawn to the destruction of the Wan, Tuz, Manyas, Mogan and Sapanca lakes, and it is seen that 60 percent of nearly 300 large and small lakes have dried up.
- According to the new research of IPSOS, the research organization of the World Economic Forum, one of the people of the world who is most worried about climate change is Turkish people.
The following occurred due to the mining, deforestation and rent policies implemented:
- State Hydraulic Works (DSI) 9th Regional Directorate, Meletî Argan (Akçadağ) district Harûnan (Harunuşağı) village, planned to be carried out on Kavurma Creek, in order to meet the raw material needs of the “Harunuşağı Pond and Irrigation Project”, clay, sand, gravel, rock material quarry, crushing plant -applied to the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change for a screening-washing and ready mixed concrete production facility. Within the scope of the project, which costs approximately 100 million TL, it is planned to establish new concrete facilities in the region for the pond and its construction. People protested the project that was started.
- A fuel oil boiler exploded for an undetermined reason at an asphalt construction site near Hasanağa village of Edirne. Tons of fuel oil used to make asphalt in the boiler spread to the environment. The place turned black due to the emitted fuel.
- Çalık Petrol Arama Üretim Sanayi ve Tic. It has been announced that A.Ş. will search for shale oil by drilling three wells in the Cinar district of Amed. The crude oil to be extracted will be stored in 4 tanks of 96 m3 in the same field. Within the scope of the project, it is envisaged to extract 376 cubic meters (m3) of oil per day in a licensed area of 12,500 square meters.
- Ufuk Beytekin, head of Marmaris City Council, stated that dynamite was used in the region during the works, but the company wrote that it would never use dynamite in EIA applications.
- While the project, which was initiated under the name of Filyos Valley Project, covers an area of 459.5 hectares, it was noteworthy that an area of 1900 hectares was declared a free zone. The project includes investments such as port, shipyard, thermal power plant, cement and soil industry, iron and steel plant, free zone, industrial zone, LPG storage facilities, petrochemical plant, refractory brick industry, coal-ore stock area and storage facilities.
- Forests in Mersin were included within the borders of TOKİ.
- After the Gordes Dam, which is located in the Gölmarmara district of Manisa, dries up significantly, it is now desired to build a sand quarry in the lake.
- A collapse occurred in the chrome waste treatment and storage pool of MMK Madencilik, located in Musalı Mahallesi of Mersin’s Toroslar district.
- For the quarry to be opened in the Datça district of Muğla, a decision was made by the Provincial Directorate of Environment and Urbanization that an “Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report is not required”.
- The license given by the Menteşe Municipality was granted for the establishment of an integrated cement factory in the Bayır District, where the first attempts began in 1993 and the villagers had been struggling for 29 years to prevent it from being opened.
- Trees were cut under the supervision of soldiers and guards who were driven to Gabar and Cûdî mountains and Besta in Sirnex.
- The General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSI) decided to build a “Çemişgezek Pond and Irrigation Project” in the village of Oskix (Paşacık) in the Çemişgezek district of Dersim, with its decision in 2014. If the project is realized, almost 80 percent of the area where the villagers can plant vineyards and gardens will be submerged.
- It was claimed that the stone chip producing company in the Zixê (Çobantaşı) village of Çewlîg (Bingöl) secretly buried chemical wastes in the ground. While the villagers reacted to the company by blocking the road, an investigation was launched upon the order of the prosecutor’s office.
- Agricultural lands and stream beds have been polluted due to the oil pipeline leak in Amed’s Karaz (Kocaköy) district. A leak occurred in the oil transmission pipes passing through the rural area of Bozbağlar District of Karaz district. The oil spill spread over a wide area in a short time.
- While the asbestos-laden ex-warship called São Paulo was planned to arrive from Brazil to İzmir Aliağa Ship Söküm, the protests made an impact and the decision was annulled.
- During the AKP rule, mining tenders were held in areas covering millions of hectares of forests, pastures, plateaus, protected areas and agricultural lands. In the MAPEG announcement published in the Official Gazette, the tender announcement was made in the area covering 58 provinces. 192 thousand 410.17 hectares of natural area, which was announced to be tendered at 344 points in 58 provinces, went out to tender. While Kurdish geography still has a predominant place among these areas, a total of 92 thousand 546.15 hectares of natural areas in 17 provinces are intended to be allocated to mining companies.
- Cancellation decision of the Council of State for 606 mining tenders.
- According to a newly released report, coal power plants that are still in operation have a health cost of 4.8 trillion TL. In addition, the power plants caused 117 thousand 661 premature births, 1 million 247 thousand cases of bronchitis in children, and 62 million workdays lost. Working on the health cost of coal use in Turkey, HEAL-Health and Environment Association revealed the total health cost of the last 55 years for the first time this year within the scope of the “Cumulative Health Effects of Chronic Coal Pollution Special Report”. According to the results of the report, large coal-fired thermal power plants over 50 MW, which were opened between 1965 and 2020 and are still operating in 16 provinces, caused a total of 4.8 trillion TL in health costs and nearly 200 thousand premature deaths in 55 years.
Of course, there were resistances to these destructions, which occurred as a result of many policies such as the climate crisis and rent, in just one year. But these resistances were local or partially reflected and made a name for themselves. In the second part, we will also cover this aspect of the struggle for ecology in our interview with Cemil Aksu from Polen Ecology.
THE SITUATION HAS NOT CHANGED IN THE FIRST 5 MONTHS OF 2023
In addition to these items we have compiled from the ecology events that stood out in 2022, the earthquakes that occurred in Mereş on February 6, 2023 and Hatay on February 20, destroyed 11 provinces and killed 50 thousand people according to official figures and more people according to unofficial figures. There were other environmental factors. This picture, which is already revealed by the policies based on rent, urbanization and zoning amnesty, caused the earthquake, which is a natural event, to turn into a disaster. In the days of the earthquake, the most scorching state of the climate crisis was experienced in these regions, and the crossroads and structures that were built in the wrong places, on which infrastructure work was not carried out, continued to take lives in Riha, Meletî and Semsûr.
After the February 6 earthquakes, the United Nations announced that it estimated that this disaster left at least 10 times as much debris as the 1999 Istanbul earthquake. Asbestos and its removal processes have been one of the most controversial issues of the last period. Because as much as the removal of the debris, where the rubble was poured was also included in this discussion. This situation made the spread of asbestos harmful to health inevitable. Speaking to Reuters, Civil engineer and Turkish Asbestos Removal Experts Association President Mehmet Şeyhmus Ensari said, “With an optimistic estimate, I can say that 3 million people will be sick.” Again, in the same news of Reuters, reporters examining satellite images revealed that the rubble was pouring into agricultural and forest lands. Let’s add that many press organizations have detected these images.
Heavy rains in Riha, Semsûr and Meletî, which were affected by the Mereş-centered earthquakes on 6 February, caused flooding on 15 March. 20 people died in the flood.
Second part: Cemil Aksu: “Only during the selection process, 701 mining areas were tendered.”