Erdogan to inaugurate Turkey’s tallest dam
Some 112 separate hydroelectric, forestry, meteorology and irrigation projects, including the 670-MW Deriner Hydroelectric Dam, in the northeast and the Mavi Tunel (Blue Tunnel) in Konya province, will be opened. But projects in the southeast are neglect
By Metin Demirsar
Istanbul (Dunya) – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday will open the 249-meter Deriner Hydroelectric Dam, Turkey’s tallest dam, and 111 other hydroelectric, forestry, flood control and irrigation projects across the country in a ceremony to be held in the Turkish capital.
The projects, worth a total TL 16 billion ($8.9 billion), aim to irrigate 2.345 million dekars (555,015 acres) of land, mainly in the fertile Konya plans in south central Turkey, provide 2,581 MW of power generating capacity (about 5% of the present national total) and 8.393 billion kilowatt hours of electricity production.
As of October 2012, Turkey had 743 operating power plants with a total power generating capacity of 55,785 MW, according to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. The country is forecast to produce a record 242.7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2012, up 9.6% from 2011, as the country attempts to diversify its energy sources and rely more on renewable energy resources.
The projects also aim to provide 614 million cubic meters of drinking water supplies to 8 million people in the provinces of Istanbul, Trabzon, Aydin, Hatay, Karabuk and Kars, and prevent flooding in 10 counties, 20 inhabited areas and 1,540 dekars (385 acres) of land.
Greater public services and rest and recreation facilities will be offered at the countries national parks, new areas will be forested in the country, and new city and honey forests are to be established.
The projects include 16 dams, 26 hydroelectric power plants,12 artificial lakes and 30 irrigation facilities, four flood control facilities, an international fire control center, meteorology radars and observation posts, and rehabilitation of the Anatolia lakes basin.
But the centerpiece is the 670 MW Deriner Dam, built in a mountainous area in Artvin province on the winding Coruh River in northeast Turkey. The world’s 12th tallest dam, the Deriner Dam is the crown of the public projects to be opened on Wednesday. It is the third of more than 27 dams to be constructed on the 431 km Coruh and its tributaries.
The Jinping 1 in China and the Nurek in Tajikistan at 305 meters and 300 meters respectively are the world’s tallest dams.
The Coruh rises in Bayburt province in northeast Turkey and empties into the Black Sea in neighboring Georgia, Constructed by a contractors’ consortium, led by Ankara-based ERG Insaat Ticaret ve Sanayi A.S., the Deriner Dam cost $1.4 billion. Constriction work on the dam began in 1999.
Another major project that will be launched is the Konya Bagbasi Dam and Blue Tunnel Project. The dam, on the Goksu River, will create a reservoir, from which the 17 km-long, 4.20 meter wide Blue Tunnel will supply irrigation water to the fertile Konya plain in south central Turkey.
The Konya Plain is Turkey’s biggest producer of cereals, including wheat, barley and oats.
The 260 km meandering Goksu River, which empties into the Mediterranean in Mersin province, is composed of two tributaries that run through Antalya, Konya and Karaman provinces.
While the government is pushing forward its hydroelectric and irrigation development in northeast and central Turkey, it is neglecting the irrigation projects that will turn the country’s southeast corner into an agricultural breadbasket.
Although the Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) has been ongoing since 1977, only one-fifth of the irrigation projects have been completed. The region is a troubled area, plagued by a 28-year uprising by the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Most of the hydroelectric dam projects in the region, save for the Ilisu, have been completed, and it too will be completed by 2014. But the irrigation projects aren’t getting off the ground.
GAP is an immense project, embracing one-tenth of Turkey, an area bigger than the Republic of Ireland, or the combined Benelux countries, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. It was slated for completion in 2005, but has been delayed by funding problems. The project covers 75,358 square kilometers and nine provinces. An estimated 8 million people live in the region. Per capita income in the southeast is three-fifths less than the national average.
About $20 billion has already been spent on GAP and several key components have been completed, including the $4 billion, 179-meter high Atatürk Dam. Named after Kemal Atatürk, founder and first president of the Turkish Republic, the rockfill dam is the world's fourth biggest embankment barrage in terms of volume and the centerpiece of GAP. Sixty percent of GAP has been completed.