Last week we drove up to the yayla in Gozne to visit M’s sister but I didn’t take my phone with me. As we drove closer to where she lives in the summer months we were shocked to see so many large construction trucks on the roads. We initially put this down to the growth of the small town and the increasing number of yaylas and villas being built. When we turned the corner we saw the real reason.
They’ve only gone a built a bloody great dam. And by the looks of things they have carved half the mountain out with it. To say it looks pug ugly is an understatement. Of course his sister is happy with this new development believing all the stuff about it being the only way to provide enough water. And while that may be true up to a point I can’t buy into it. To find out more just go and research Arundhati Roy’s essays on dam building in India. To give a very abridged summary: dams are outdated technology promoted by the world bank and those that are for hydroelectric purposes rarely produce the predicted amount of energy. Also, the promises of the water being for the public tend to be lies, as water hungry industries frequently come to build factories very close to the dam lake and reduce further the promised irrigation water for farmers.
Anyway, that aside, I wouldn’t mind so much if it also came alongside a message promoting water conservation. It’s not just dripping taps you see all over the place but constantly running taps. For a country that supposedly has little water, Turks seem to be very liberal in their use of it and lax in fixing leaks. Plus, it is just so ugly.
This year it has felt that wherever I drive there are great gouges out of the mountains in the name of progress. Either to build new roads/dams or to provide the necessary materials for all these huge projects. And yes the benefits of a wider road are ones I enjoy but that is only because it gives me more space to avoid the idiot drivers who think that playing chicken with the mountain is a great display of their masculinity.
Sadly I have little faith that following this devastating effect on the environment, the authorities will work to make sure they do some restoration. Why do I have such little faith? Because in this country they clearly are madly in love with concrete and the dubious progress it represents.
Gozne is growing, it seems impossible to stop. That is something I have known for a while as each year there are more signs showing new developments and more individual yayla projects popping up. But this monstrous dam was a real unexpected shock that has forever altered the mountain. Fortunately M’s sister’s yayla faces away from this towards the valley that eventually becomes Mersin. But turning your back on something doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Gozne might not be as historically significant as HasanKeyf, which is soon to be flooded and lost forever, but it perhaps shows some truth in the idea that by keeping everyone’s eye on Hasankeyf there are plenty of other smaller dam projects getting built with barely a whimper. This doesn’t mean that no one protests these projects but environmentalists have little political strength here. They are not helped by the fact that for most people they just want a way out of poverty and protecting the environment is not high on their priorities. That said, there is a growing awareness and social media is certainly helping. But for now progress comes in the form of masses of concrete and huge environmental change.