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Yusufeli project violates international standarts.

International Fact Finding Mission releases preliminary report.

The planned Yusufeli Hydroelectric in Turkey project violates international standards on resettlement, cultural heritage, international waterways and environmental assessment, according to the preliminary report of an international fact finding Mission which recently returned from the region.

The Mission calls on the Export Credit Agencies which are considering the project to refuse support.

The Mission consisted of representatives of Corner House, Friends of the Earth, Kurdish Human Rights Project, Amis de la Terre, France Liberte and Ilisu Dam Campaign.


SUMMARY OF PRELIMINARY REPORT BY INTERNATIONAL FACT FINDING MISSION TO YUSUFELI.

The Yusufeli dam and hydro-electric project is planned to be built on the Çoruh river in North East Turkey. It would have a generating capacity of 540 MW. Estimated construction costs of the dam vary between $700 million
and $838 million. Resettlement costs are estimated at a further $750 million. In addition, a minimum of $1.5 billion is estimated to be required for rebuilding the roads that will be flooded by the dam.

Serious concerns have been raised over the dam's environmental, human rights and cultural heritage impacts. Eighteen towns and villages, including the town of Yusufeli, would be completely or partially submerged by the dam, displacing 15,000 people from their homes and indirectly affecting up to a further 15,000 people. No resettlement plan has yet been made public and consultation has been minimal. Much cultural heritage would also be affected. The Yusufeli dam would also have negative impacts on the Çoruh river and its surrounding environment which currently remains largely undisturbed and is rich in wildlife.

In order to investigate the concerns raised about the project, and to determine whether the project meets international standards, an international fact finding mission visited the region in April 2002. The Mission interviewed a range of local politicians, business people, elected representatives and state officials. Unfortunately, it was not possible
to conduct the full planned programme of investigation due to intimidation of prospective interviewees by the Turkish state security police. The Mission notes that such intimidation severely undermines the prospects of a fair
and just outcome for the project.

Players in the Project.

The contracts for the Yusufeli and Artvin dams were awarded by the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural resources authorised its General Directorate of State Hydroelectric Works (DSI) to a consortium led by Spie Batignolles, the French electrical engineering, IT services and construction company. At that time, the Spie Batignolles consortium consisted of Spie Batignolles
TP (France - leader); Abay TS (Belguim); Alstom Acec Energie (Belgium); ABB Generacion SA (Spain); Alstom Hydro SA (Spain); AMEC (UK). AMEC has subsequently withdrawn but still has a considerable interest, however, through its 46 per cent ownership of SPIE with the option to purchase the remainder in July 2002.

The total cost of constructing the two dams is to be financed through buyer and financial credits. This financing is being arranged by two banks, Paribas and Barclays, in liaison with COFACE, the French export credit agency; the export credit agencies of other countries whose companies are involved in the project; and the Turkish Treasury.

There are several sets of standards applicable to the Yusufeli project. This preliminary report assesses the project only in relation to the World Bank Safeguard policies - compliance with which represent SPIE and COFACE's precondition for involvement in the project. Compliance with the remaining standards and laws will be assessed in the Mission's final report.

There are potentially seven relevant World Bank Safeguard policies: Environmental Assessment, Natural Habitats, Involuntary Resettlement, Indigenous Peoples, Management of Cultural Property, Safety of Dams, Projects in International Waterways.

The Mission's Findings.

As a project which involves resettlement and major environmental impacts, under World Bank guidelines Yusufeli requires an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to be completed. Interviews and research conducted by the
Mission suggest that the Yusufeli project violates this guideline on three major counts:

- Inadequate consultation - no consultation has taken place on environmental impacts, only on attitudes to resettlement; women have not been consulted.

- Failure to adequately assess alternative projects - no environmental or social assessment of alternative dam sites has been undertaken; supply and demand side alternatives have not been considered.

- Failure to disclose the EIA to the public prior to appraisa l- despite repeated requests from NGOs in Europe and individuals in Yusufeli, the EIA has not been made publicly available.

The Mission recommends that the EIAR be released as soon as possible in order that an assessment of compliance or otherwise with the Bank's environmental standards can be made.

The Mission's research also suggests that the Yusufeli project violates the guideline on natural habitats on four counts:

- Failure to assess impacts on natural habitats - the Mission was told that the EIA does not assess impacts on Natural habitats, that no one had actually been to study the region and that although a report had of the need to assess impacts this had been ignored.

- Failure to adequately assess alternative projects - the Yusufeli project's impacts on natural habitats have not been compared with impacts of potential alternative projects.

- Failure to consult - no consultation has taken place on impacts on the environment or on natural habitats.

- Failure to identify measures for conservation and mitigation if the dam should go ahead.

The Mission's research also suggests that the Yusufeli project violates the guidelines on involuntary resettlement on four counts:

- Inadequate consultation - no consultation has taken place on environmental impacts, only on attitudes to resettlement. Some people feel that, even on the limited things they were consulted about, their views have been ignored.

- Failure to consult with women.

- Failure to disclose a resettlement action plan (RAP) prior to appraisal - the resettlement site is yet to be decided and a RAP has not been produced.

There are specific concerns about people's compensation and whether adequate budget exists.

There is a World Bank safeguard policy on indigenous peoples (including ethnic minorities) but the Mission was unable to asses whether this is applicable in the case of the Yusufeli Dam. There is much Georgian heritage and ancestry in the region, but the Mission was unable to investigate whether the groups of people who still speak Georgian would identify themselves as a distinct cultural group, as required by the World Bank.

The Mission's research and the professional assessment of Maggie Ronayne, a member of the Executive of the World Archaeological Congress (WAC), suggests that the World Bank's guidelines on management of cultural property have been violated on three major counts:

- Failure to consult on the cultural heritage impacts of the project.

- Failure to produce a credible budget for salvage efforts and plans or to incorporate cultural heritage assessment costs into project costs.

- Failure to assess the impact of the project on tourism. The Mission also notes that there is no national or regional survey or cultural inventory.

Without access to the EIA, the Mission has been unable to adequately assess the compliance of the Yusufeli project with the World Bank's guidelines on safety of dams. However, the following issues are of concern:

- The Mission found no evidence that an independent panel has been appointed to review and advise on matters relative to dam safety.

- The Mission found no evidence of provisions for ensuring safety over the lifetime of the dam.

- The Mission found a general lack of evidence about other safety provisions and with no management plan having been released.

The Mission found that the project violates the World Bank's guideline on projects in international waterways:

- Consent has not been received from Georgia, Turkey's downstream riparian on the river Çoruh.


The Mission therefore concludes that the Yusufeli project violates the World Bank Safeguard policies. The Mission therefore strongly recommends that, in order to meet its own pre-conditions, SPIE should withdraw from the project.The Mission likewise recommends that COFACE abides by its pre-conditions for support and refuses to consider providing export credits for the project.

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