Turkey starts generating power from controversial Ilisu dam


Turkey launched the first of the six power turbines on the Ilisu Dam in the south-east on Tuesday, with the dam expected to be fully operational by the end of the year.

The Ilisu dam project has received strong criticism at home and abroad because of environmental damage and the decline in water flow into water-poor neighbouring Iraq.

The 135-metre-high dam on the Tigris river has an annual power generation capacity of 4.1 billion kilowatt hours, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a video conference marking the inauguration. At full capacity, the dam will produce power for 6 million residents per year, Erdogan added.

The 300-square-kilometre reservoir has already started flooding the archaeologically important town of Hasankeyf, sweeping away one of the oldest human settlements and forcing thousands of residents to resettle.

All of the settlements in the area have now been flooded.

Additionally, 80 percent of the ancient city is under the waters "except for a castle and higher parts," Ridvan Ayhan, an activist in the region, reported by phone.

Turkey spent 18 billion lira (2.65 billion dollars) to build the dam, including costs to protect "all cultural and historical assets including Hasankeyf," Erdogan argued.    (dpa)

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