Environmentalists are losing the battle to protect Alliaoni from drowning beneath the Yortanlı Dam’s floodwaters
Despite certain fits and starts between secular and conservative residents, Turkey is moving and shaking, establishing itself as a firm democracy.
Nor is the country short on natural and historical bounty. Recently, we described how Turkey is helping Syria revive the Northern Bald Ibis as well as eco-friendly lodging options available to visitors drawn to a vast architectural heritage. Such democratic, environmental, and historical gains may experience a set back, however, as officials prepare to flood an ancient city with the Yortanlı Dam.
For 17 years, Turkish environmentalists have struggled on behalf of the ancient city near Bergama in Turkey’s Aegean region. An old Roman hotsprings settlement set in the path of the Dam’s flood waters, Alliaoni would essentially become buried once the dam is constructed.
At the very least, environmentalists hoped to first bury the city under clay and silt, which would help to restore its ancient artifacts.
But recently, the preservation board – after consulting university specialists recommended by the State Waterworks Authority, or DSİ – ruled to bury the city with sand instead.
Defying penal code
According to Hurriyet Daily News, the Allianoi Initiative (AI) started by environmentalists to fight the dam’s construction, oppose the ruling.
They “…argue that the decision will bury a rich repository of history and that the sand cover will not be enough to protect such an important ancient site,” according to the Turkish daily.
The Allianoi Initiative is represented by lawyer Hilal Kuey, who insists this new decision runs contrary to Turkish Penal Code, and they intend to fight it.
Another group member, geophysics engineer Erhan İçöz, says the sand can not sufficiently block water from coming into contact with the artifacts, thus they would be damaged once submerged.
A local court previously passed a law that would allow the artifacts to be removed and relocated elsewhere, out of the water’s path, but the Supreme Court overruled that decision.
Izmir Provincial Culture and Tourism Directorate head Abdülaziz Ediz told Hurriyet “the program would be carried out by DSİ officials, noting that the legal challenges to the Alliaoni project had been completely settled.”
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