Regional protection boards no longer have a say in the construction and operation of dams following a recent decision by a more senior organization, a move which will make it harder to protect historically significant sites like Allianoi and Hasankeyf.
The Akşam daily reported on Thursday that the Board of Protection of Cultural and Natural Assets of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism this week ruled on bypassing the regional boards in the process of making decisions over the operation of dams.
The new decision paves the way for the operation of the Ilısu Dam to commence once construction is complete, even though the regional board disapproves of such a decision. The ancient site of Hasankeyf is under threat of being submerged because of the construction of the Ilısu Dam on the Tigris River. The decision is also likely to influence the fate of Allianoi, the world's oldest known spa settlement, which is at risk of being submerged underwater due to the nearby Yortanlı Dam, the construction of which has been completed.
Formerly, approval by regional protection boards was required before commencing operation of a dam on the basis of a 2010 decision by the Board of Protection of Cultural and Natural Assets. According to that regulation, regional boards were to evaluate the effects of a dam should dams threaten an ancient site or immovable cultural property, and these boards were to take necessary measures immediately to protect the sites.
The higher board convened this week to remove that regulation, citing “the proper use of water resources in Turkey” as the reason.