Select Committee on Trade and Industry Twelfth Report


24. The first condition on export credit which the Secretary of State set out in December 1999 was that a resettlement programme should be drawn up "which reflects internationally accepted best practice and includes independent monitoring". In evidence to us the Secretary of State was unequivocal—

    "If we do not have a resettlement plan in place which satisfies the UK Government we will not extend an export credit to this project".[14]

We shared Ministers' view that the prospect of displacing thousands of local residents "without proper consultation, compensation and resettlement" was "the greatest remaining obstacle to granting export credit to the dam".[15] In response the Government added that it would be looking for assurances that the Resettlement Action Plan would be "put fully and properly into effect".[16]

25. The resettlement of those displaced by the dam, and the replacement of the income for those who will lose their livelihood, remain our principal concerns. We would not seek to oppose export credit for any project solely because it involved an element of compulsory purchase and resettlement of people, any more than we would in the UK. It is important that the Turkish authorities do not gain the mistaken impression that they are being set an impossible goal, and that if they get near it the goalposts are moved. Some of those who oppose the grant of export credit are — and are quite entitled to be — simply opposed to the dam being built. We are neutral on that subject. We were of course only able to gather a fleeting impression from our visit and from conversations. A final view has to await the RAP. If an acceptable and credible plan were presented, which we had grounds for believing would be implemented fully and effectively, we would not recommend refusal of export credit simply because of the scale of population disturbance.

26. The reports from NGOs, the Kudat Report and the extracts attached to the Kudat Report from the draft RAP set out some of the peculiar circumstances surrounding this project —

  • the security situation, which means that around half of the settlements affected are empty, with the former inhabitants displaced by the insurgency and counter-insurgency, and probably widely dispersed; one result is that some settlements have yet even to be visited by those drawing up the RAP;

  • the climate of suspicion and tension between the local population and the national authorities, as we saw for ourselves in the course of our visit;

  • independently of that, the uncertainty of title to land and other fixed assets;

  • the long uncertainty surrounding the project since it was first brought forward over 20 years ago; although there has been a regrettable absence of consultation ( see below) the dam has cast a long shadow over the Tigris valley and floodplain.

Effect of displacement

27. The current social and economic situation of those likely to be displaced or otherwise affected by the dam is very mixed. There are prosperous landowners who will benefit from cash compensation. There are the landless poor in Hasankeyf and the rural villages and hamlets whose current standard of living is low and who have little prospect of improvement. The Kudat Report on the draft RAP records that many village schools and health centres are not functioning. Many are reliant on family members taking seasonal urban work. While due weight must be put on the uncertainty confronting those facing resettlement in cities or new rural settlements, that has to be in the context of the existing circumstances in which those likely to be displaced are now living.

28. The prospects for the affected areas if the dam were not built are uncertain and little explored so far as we have been able to discover. Some are upbeat about the future. The GAP project is intended to revive the rural economy as well as lead to further industrialisation and economic growth. Irrigation allows for cash crops, such as cotton, fruit and vegetables. Anatolia generally is being promoted by the Turkish authorities as a regional "tiger" economy.

Economic effects of dam

29. The dam offers mixed economic prospects for those affected and others in the region. There will be thousands of short and medium term construction jobs, some semi-skilled or skilled, and most likely to be taken by men. It seems to be accepted that those likely to lose their homes and livelihood will enjoy some priority in getting such jobs and the associated training. That has been the case in the many past dam projects. Some of those may be able to use their skills and experience in future construction projects, such as the Cizre dam and associated irrigation projects. There is however little sign of any similar opportunities for women, who are active in the current rural economy.

30. We found some scepticism as to the longer term economic benefits of the dam and reservoir to the immediate area. It is a national scheme, intended to provide national and not regional benefits. We found, for example, no suggestion that the electricity produced would be cheaper for domestic or industrial consumers in the immediate area. The suggestions, reflected in the Kudat Report, that there could be a tourist or fishing industry associated with the reservoir do not seem to be founded on any firm evidence from other schemes. It may be that the construction of the dam and the formation of the reservoir will have substantial local and regional economic benefits. It is however our understanding that the case made for the dam by the Turkish authorities relies on national and not local or regional benefits; if there was to be a net local or regional benefit that would be a welcome bonus.

31. Hasankeyf is a special case. We encountered the argument from a number of regional government officials that, dam or no dam, occupation of the town at the present level cannot continue much longer on sanitation grounds, and because of the constraints of its status as a protected historical site. Others told us that the authorities were conniving in the gradual destruction of the site as a means of averting international attention. We cannot judge the accuracy of these assertions. We did not detect any plans for transferring the inhabitants other than in connection with the dam. At present the town is said to be enjoying the fruits of a booming local tourist trade, with tea shops, cafes in the caves on the citadel, and craft shops and stalls.

32. World Bank standards require that prospects for those displaced be no worse than before. It is not enough to hope that something will turn up. What is required is both detailed and costed planning, and firm evidence from previous experience that implementation will match intention. In advance of a view of the Plan we are sceptical on both counts.

Landless people

33. Our principal concern is over the fate of landless people displaced by the reservoir, because either their housing or the land on which they work as labourers is to be inundated. They do not under Turkish law qualify for compensation, since they have no movable assets which can be valued as the basis for compensation. We understand that there is also no compensation for those losing access to communally held pasture lands, primarily those in the floodplain used in the summer months. Those without a right to compensation are offered state assisted resettlement, either in towns in housing provided by the relevant central Government agency, or in rural areas in housing — apparently known in contempt as "boxes" — similarly provided, together with a small plot of land and what is judged the minimum necessary equipment. People can be moved in groups if desired, for example as an extended family or existing hamlet.

Urban resettlers

34. The Kudat Report considers that the difficulties of urban resettlement are "far fewer"than rural, requiring above all proper budget allocations and early identification of the sites. The excerpt from the draft RAP refers to a "large area available in Diyarbakir to the Directorate of Rural Services for resettlement housing" and recommends that every effort should be made to prepare the site, with earmarked resources.

35. Our meetings with the Mayors of Batman and Diyarbakir did not leave us with the impression that anything practical had been done to take forward the early identification of sites, such as specific consultation with the municipal authorities in these cities where a number may settle. Nor did we gain the impression that the attempt to train those without skills or jobs and transferring to cities had got far for those displaced by the recently completed Birecik dam. We learned of a handful of artisans — a jewellery business, a mill, and a workshop — established out of hundreds displaced and resettling in urban centres. Some are being taught English in an attempt to suit them for work in the tourist industry. We were also told that urban land for those from the Birecik reservoir area who had chosen to resettle in towns — as most had — was still being sought. It is not, as one official put it, easy to turn peasants into entrepreneurs.

Rural resettlers

36. It is plain from reports, including the Kudat Report and its attached summary of the draft RAP, that suitable rural sites for resettlement may well not be available around the Ilisu area, in particular for the size of new villages envisaged of around 250 households, even if abandoned communities were resettled. Some references are made to "unused Treasury lands". Even if land is found, the new settlements proposed may not be up to much. We were told that in at least one case Birecik resettlers had found that the new village had no water supply. There are also failings in the system for rural resettlement. Those settlements which are partially affected and lose some infrastructure are entitled to a replacement funded from DSI. There is little knowledge or understanding of what villages have now by way of infrastructure, such as informal irrigation systems or access to timber or building materials. There seems to be no full census or detailed idea of the value of what is to be lost.

37. We are concerned at the way in which the system seems to disregard the need to replace the livelihood of those without land assets whose income source is to be removed or reduced. The Kudat Report criticises the absence of details on people's income. The idea that those remaining in partially affected communities but losing access to land for grazing, orchards and woods can replace income by fishing and tourism, apparently advanced in the RAP on which Kudat commented, is far-fetched. Those moving to towns will also need a source of income. As the RAP quoted by Kudat states, the poor want employment opportunities.

38. Experience as recounted to us of the Birecik dam suggests that fine words about "enhancing the marketable urban based skills of landless families", and a "comprehensive non-traditional skills training programme" cut little ice in reality. Villagers are to be displaced from their homes and pastures without compensation and resettled either in municipal housing on the outskirts of the local cities which are suffer from high unemployment and the presence of the last wave of displaced people from the countryside, or in new rural settlements if land can be found, with questionable prospects of gaining a livelihood. The Kudat Report notes that the future of the landless, the uneducated and women displaced pose the greatest challenge and "will be the measure against which civil society evaluates the Ilisu RAP". We do not dissent from that.


39. The numbers of people estimated as likely to be affected has varied wildly. There are good reasons for this. The numbers include those "partially affected", meaning those in settlements some of whose land may be inundated or otherwise damaged but where the residential units are left untouched; the largest totals includes all the estimated population of these settlements. It seems now agreed that 80 settlements will be fully affected, including the town of Hasankeyf, 17 occupied villages and 18 occupied hamlets; and 104 will be partially affected, 63 of them occupied villages and hamlets.

40. Almost half of the settlements directly or indirectly affected are vacant, as a result of the wave of villages and hamlets evacuated in the early 1990s as a result of the insurgency; the numbers apparently seek to estimate the notional number of inhabitants of such settlements, since it has been agreed that they are entitled to the same degree as current inhabitants. That is not easy, given uncertainties about the scope of the 1990 census and other similar problems. The Kudat Report estimates that around a third of the affected population was already displaced about eight years ago.[17]

41. The range of figures suggests that between 19,000 and 34,000 people may be directly affected, or around 4,000 households. There is much uncertainty about the prospects of those displaced returning to empty and often ruined settlements, even if the security situation now permits that. This is not an arid statistical exercise. What matters is not the exact numbers of households or people, but that the area has or will be sufficiently fully surveyed to ensure that enough funds are laid aside for compensation and resettlement, and that the people involved are all consulted about their future.


42. There has been criticism of the Turkish authorities for not embarking on consultation until recently. The International Development Committee in its July 2000 Report on ECGD, Developmental Issues and the Ilisu Dam recommended that cover be not given because the dam had from the outset been " conceived and planned in contravention of international standards and it still does not comply" .[18] It seems that the Committee was in particular concerned at the absence of consultation with those affected, as set out in the report on the subject of resettlement prepared for ECGD by Dr Morvaridi.

43. The first reconnaissance study on the possibilities of a major Tigris dam was carried out in 1954. In 1971 the DSI produced a report on a number of alternative sites along 53 kms of the river between 350 and 450 metres above sea level. An engineering report on 10 sites was produced in 1975; a feasibility report in 1977; and a final design report in 1982, with the assistance of three UK consultant engineering firms.

44. It is twenty years and more since the Turkish authorities decided in principle to build a hydro-electric dam at Ilisu. No doubt under modern standards they could and should have consulted at some point in the past. But the results of such a consultation carried out so long ago would hardly carry conviction now. The people of the area are well aware of the shadow of the dam. What matters is whether the Turkish authorities are now approaching consultation on the possible dam in accordance with best international practice.

45. We have not found it easy to assess the adequacy of consultation with those affected. A survey of 2,100 households has been carried out by a private company, SEMOR, under contract to DSI, concentrating on most of the major settlements to be wholly displaced, and including one third of the population of Hasankeyf. The survey included group discussions and limited contact with displaced households. The Kudat Report noted that over one third of the respondents were women as the men were not available during house visits. It has been alleged that the interviews were in Turkish only and not Kurdish.

46. We understand that people were asked if they thought the proposed dam would be beneficial to them. They were also asked what sort of resettlement assistance they would seek were the dam to go ahead. We were not able to see the questionnaire administered, apparently for reasons of copyright. Nor have we seen the detailed results, beyond an analysis of views on the dam and an expression of the category of assistance which would be sought. We hope that both are released with the RAP. We heard varying views as to the purpose of this survey — to discover the views of the local population, to go through the hoops necessary to get export credit, or to get an idea of the level of assistance required.

47. That the consultation process on the dam has been flawed in the past is not seriously contested. It is not our judgement that this need of itself mean that the project should not be given export credit. It does however place a strong onus on the Turkish authorities to be able to demonstrate that they are now proceeding strictly by the book, and in accordance with highest standards expected of a country seeking to be accepted in due course into membership of the European Union. The RAP will have to demonstrate to its readers that they have done that.



  48. There has been some critical comment about the ability of the political institutions involved to manage the process of resettlement, and to ensure that there really is the funding available. We were struck by the complexity of the arrangements, although they are probably broadly reflected in the arrangements which would be made in other countries, including the UK. The Kudat Report suggested some institutional changes. Some may be possible following recent changes in the law; others — such as transferring to DSI overall responsibility for administering compensation and resettlement as well as paying for it — seem improbable.


  49. The DSI or State Hydraulic Institute was founded in 1953 as an agency of the Government responsible for planning, management and execution of irrigation, power generation and industrial and domestic water supply projects for all of Turkey. It is a vast organisation, with over 30,000 staff including around 5,000 qualified graduates, predominantly engineers. We were briefed by the Director-General, an eminent academic engineer, at its headquarters at Ankara, and at the Regional Office at Diyarbakir. Its annual budget of around $1.9 billion includes capital investment of around $1.3 billion, which we were told represented about a quarter of all directly funded investment by central Government. Over half goes on energy projects. DSI are a large and perhaps bureaucratic organisation with a well-defined mission. We were told that they are the third largest dam building organisation in the world. They are there to build dams.


  50. The South Eastern Anatolian Project, known from its Turkish initials as GAP ( Guneydogu Anadolu Projesi), was initiated in 1976 as a regional development project combining 13 individual hydropower and irrigation projects in 9 provinces of Turkey. These projects were to be managed and run by the DSI. With the passage of time, the GAP project has as intended taken on other sectoral concerns, including social and economic development and transportation, which are of course not the responsibility of DSI. This brought with it a separate administration. We were for example briefed on the special efforts made in connection with the recently completed Birecik dam to ensure proper implementation of the resettlement programme, including monitoring and independent evaluation. Various NGOs were involved from the start. UNDP funding was made available. The extent of the GAP administration's direct involvement in the Ilisu RAP remains to be seen.


  51. The agency responsible for resettling those displaced by a dam project, through provision of new housing, infrastructure and the associated agricultural tools etc is the General Directorate of Rural Services or KHGM. It is also they who seem to have been responsible for the early consultation with local communities, or the absence of it.

Agency co-operation

  52. We gather that an inter-agency committee of around 20 different institutions has already been established. We were briefed on comparable arrangements made under the auspices of GAP in relation to the Birecik dam, which may have produced a more consistent pattern of implementation. The Kudat Report praised this structure. We have no reason to doubt the capacity of the Turkish bureaucracy to devise structures which can bring agencies together around a table. Whether this solves the question of budgetary responsibility, and in particular the vagaries of the annual budgetary appropriation process, is another matter.

14  HC 200, Ev, Q 134 Back

15  ibid, para 20 Back

16  HC 482, page v Back

17  Page 20 Back

18  HC 211, para 11 Back

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