Court ends power plant dispute in Munzur Valley

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An administrative court in Ankara has ended a 10-year-long legal deadlock by deciding to cancel a power plant project in Turkey’s largest national park.

The Kaletepe Hydroelectric Plant project, one of four controversial energy projects in Munzur Valley National Park, is now irrevocably voided, according to a lawyer who had applied for the annulment of the project license.

“The decision is highly positive for the local community and our country. We have raised triumphant in the 10-year-long legal battle, and the local people are very happy with the decision,” said attorney Özgür Ulaş Kaplan.

“Since the other three hydroelectric plant (HES) projects and a dam project are in the same area, the ruling of the Ankara Third Administrative Court will set a precedent for those cases,” he added.

Munzur Valley National Park is the largest and most biodiverse national park in Turkey.

‘Fabulous natural beauty’

Tunceli locals and environmentalists have been protesting the planned dam and hydroelectric projects in the Munzur Valley. They say such projects would not only damage nature in the national park, but also submerge areas considered sacred by Alevis, who constitute most of the population in Tunceli.

“Some 500 endemic plants and tens of wild animal species live there,” said Kaplan. The area is also home to the almost-extinct caracal, a reddish-brown wildcat with black-tipped ears, he noted.

“There are more than 1,500 plant species and a fabulous natural beauty. They will all be saved with the verdict of the court,” he said.

People in Tunceli province, particularly in the Munzur and Pülümür valleys, can catch glimpses of many animals such as the Chevrotain [mouse deer], wolf, bear, pig, fox, sea otter and caracal, locals say. Many times, people capture images of the creatures with nothing more than a cellphone camera, they said.

The province’s rivers hosted the World Rafting Championship last June in which 20 countries participated. Munzur River winds through a 35-kilometer-long route.

Previous national competitions in rafting, paragliding and water jet skiing and flyboarding have also complemented the provinces’ waterways.

Tunceli’s old mosques, castles, churches, bridges and public baths also attract history enthusiasts. The 1,200-year-old Ergen Church decorates the city’s skyline, as does the 13th-century Elti Hatun Mosque and Celebi Ali Mosque, which date back to the late 1500s. The majesty of Çemişgezek and Pertek Castles are also worth seeing.

Hurriyet Daily News

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