Ilısu Dam

Ilısu Dam (Turkish: /ɯ.lɯ.su/) is one of the 21 dams of the Southeastern Anatolia Project of Turkey. Located on the Tigris River, it is the largest hydroelectric power plant of the project. It is estimated that the dam will create a reservoir with a maximum volume of 10.4 billion m³ and a surface area of 313 km² creating a power capacity of 1,200 MW and is expected to produce 3,800 GWh of power per year. Construction started on August 5, 2006.


The Ilısu hydro-electric power project is to be situated on the Tigris river, 65 km upstream from the border with Syria and Iraq. With a planned capacity of 1,200 MW, it will be the largest hydro-electric project in Turkey. The project, costing an estimated $2 billion, will be built by an international consortium, led by Swiss company Sulzer Hydro. The groundbreaking ceremony was on August 5, 2006 led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

According to the Turkish Human Rights Project (KHRP), completion of the Ilısu Dam would cause the flooding of the ancient city of Hasankeyf whose history stretches back over 10,000 years. Between 50 and 68 hamlets and villages will be flooded affecting approximately 25,000 local people. An additional 57 villages will have their land partially flooded.

According to a KHRP report, at least 19 villages have reportedly been evacuated at gunpoint by the Turkish authorities in the reservoir area, and in many cases houses have been burnt to the ground, only few being compensated. The KHRP also states that:

The town is of particular cultural significance to the Kurdish people: the delegation found a widespread perception that the GAP project, and Ilısu in particular, is motivated primarily by a desire to destroy the Kurds as an ethnic group by destroying their most important cultural sites.

Alternatively, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, at the ground-breaking ceremony, stated : "The step that we are taking today demonstrates that the south-east is no longer neglected. This dam will bring big gains to the local people." Ankara hopes that the dam - part of a long-term plan to develop the poor, mainly Kurdish region - will create up to 10,000 jobs, irrigate farmlands and attract tourists. The government has promised to compensate local people who will lose their homes and that all the valuable artifacts will be relocated before the dam's completion in 2013.

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