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Everything Is Not Consistently Illuminated

Part 3 in "Village of the Dammed," a blog mini-series from Turkey, on the country's controversial Ilisu Dam. Very...

Part 3 in "Village of the Dammed," a blog mini-series from Turkey, on the country's controversial Ilisu Dam.


Very suddenly, it's pitch dark in Do?ubeyazit.Power outages in hotels (and entire towns, for that matter) are a relatively common occurence in Turkey, not for lack of energy, but for lack of infrastructure. This is when the wise old saying "don't try to run before you can walk" (or something like that) comes to mind, though it sort of morphs into, "don't try to swim in the giant new lake you've created before you can, you know, effectively distribute the energy and other resources you do have to the people who need it."In the dark, I twiddled my thumbs, reflecting on the fact that Turkey has so far failed to meet most of the 153 Terms of Reference set forth by the Committee of Experts, a group of consultants and experts appointed by investors to evaluate the the Ilisu Dam. This may cause investors to back out (again, that is-major european backers dropped out over similar concerns of unpreparedness in the past, temporarily halting the project, which has been stop-and-go since the 1970s. In the same overeager fashion, I figure, they may be skipping some crucial developmental steps necessary to ensure that the anticipated benefits of the Southern Anatolia Project (GAP) dams will flow as smoothly throughout the region as they hope. But, I'm only figuring.

And then, the lights flickered back on as the Hotel Nuh's generator-one of the more crucial amenities of the three-star hotel-kicked into gear with a buzz. I read that Turkey's largest dam, the Ataturk, was completed in 1990. For its immediate neighbor, the city of Sanliurfa, it did just what it promised, delivering new jobs, foreign investment and economic growth. But only a short distance away, the thousands that had been resettled for its construction and promised better existences had given up their homes and gained little to nothing, enjoying little in the way of improved employment opportunities or higher quality of life. Turkey lacks the infrastructure to disperse whatever gains would be made from these major projects; with the Ilisu cranking out 2.4% of the nation's energy supply, there's no guarantee that, even while a city like Sanliurfa is booming, we wouldn't still end up suddenly fumbling for the doorknob by the light of a laptop screen.

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