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Demirel adds 7th earring to Gap project

Demirel adds 7th earring to Gap project

30 May, 1996, Copyright © TDN

Features Page contents
  • Demirel adds 7th earring to Gap project

    Demirel adds 7th earring to Gap project

  • King of Dams: By inaugurating the foundation of the Karkamis Dam 30 years after doing the same for the Keban Dam in 1966, President Demirel has ensured that his uncontested title of 'King of Dams' continues
  • Water wars: Demirel acknowledges that there are many scenarios relating to the water issue in the Middle East but says that for him the main question is to see the completion of the gigantic Gap project
  • Development: Having devoted almost his whole life to the GAP project, Demirel nevertheless says that issues such as developing the region by giving it the necessary educational, health, social and cultural infrastructure is far more important that the project itself

    By Kemal Balci / Turkish Daily News

    ANKARA- What happens when one of the world's grandest progress projects is realized in one of the world's poorest regions? There are many answers to this question and many choices to every answer. But perhaps the most important fact based on this question is that to force such an advance of progress into 30 years, represents a long period of time for a person but very short for a country. President Suleyman Demirel, being aware of this, has said that the most important thing is to complete the project.

    The last link in the chain of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) has been completed. The seventh earring of the "Bride with seven earrings" as President Suleyman Demirel says, has been put on the Euphrates, which Demirel deems a bride. The foundation of Karkamis Dam, which is 4.5 kilometers from the Syria border, has been laid. The wild Euphrates will have a last rest at Karkamis before starting its "journey through the desert."

    The Euphrates and the Tigris will stop seven times in Anatolia. At every stop they will give light and fertility to the Anatolian people. The GAP project, which Suleyman Demirel started on Nov. 12, 1966 with Keban Dam, has reached its last big turn. The construction of the dam lake in the Karkamis district of Gaziantep has started. The project started with Keban Dam in 1966, went on with the Karakaya Dam in 1978, and continued with the Ataturk Dam in 1983. The efforts to restrain the Euphrates, that came close to the Syria border with the Birecik Dam in May 1993, have come to an end with the laying of the foundation of Karkamis Dam. The construction of the Tigris and Kralkizi Dams, which will be used both for irrigation and for electricity production, on the Tigris has started.

    Suleyman Demirel is proud of the project to which he has given 30 years; yet he emphasizes that the Euphrates and Tigris rivers are behind the achieved success. When he was laying the foundation of Karkamis Dam he thanked the Euphrates. He expressed how grateful we were to the light, energy and fertility giving river.

    President Suleyman Demirel showed how important the project was to him at every opportunity he had during the GAP trip he undertook. The president traveled with five planes, two full of journalists and guests, two of ministers and officials and one of writers. He first came to Gaziantep Airport then passed to Karkamis district.

    At the foundation-laying ceremony at Karkamis Dam, Demirel made a speech calling everyone in the region to get together. He emphasized the aim of progress beyond contemporary Turkey by saying "Democratic and secular Turkey will reach its aim." He recalled for the benefit of those who lay claim to the waters of the Euphrates that the river rises in the Turkish provinces of Agri and Mus.

    "We will not dry the gardens and fields of Syria. But our rights should also be recognized," he said.

    "No one should place a stone before us," Demirel added, indicating that Turkey still supports a peaceful settlement to this problem.

    Then there were fireworks. Colored smoke drifted toward the skies of Syria. Balloons followed, as did a Turkish flag which drifted in the sky. This was followed by the planting of the first pick in the ground as television broadcast the event live nationwide and telephones beamed news reports to the four corners of the earth.Description of the project

    Karkamis Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant (HEPP) is within the scope of border Euphrates Protect comprising a part of the Southeastern Anatolia Project. Karkamis Dam is situated on the Euphrates River forming the provincial border between Gaziantep and Sanliurfa and is 4.5 kilometers upstream of the Syrian border.

    The purpose of Karkamis Dam is power generation. Since no regulation of Karkamis Dam is considered, Karkamis HEPP will operate simultaneously with Birecik HEPP. The dam consist of the energy facilities (housing the power intake and the powerhouse) and the spillway at the right abutment, and the embankment between the concrete structures and the abutments. The central clay-cored-fill type dam is 29 meters high from foundation with a crest length of 1647 meters and a total filling volume of 2.1 million meters3, including the cofferdams. The spillway has sixteen openings designed for a maximum discharge capacity of 17411 m3/s. The power plant having a total installed capacity of 189 MW comprising six units is foreseen to be commissioned at the end of a four-year construction period. The power plant comprises double turbine-generator units each rated at a capacity of 31.5 MW and will be equipped with horizontal axis Kaplan turbines. The three-phase synchronous generators with horizontal axis are of 35 MWA capacity each. The switchyard occupies an area of approximately 150X200 m2 at the right bank of the tailrace. Power generated by the units will be transmitted to a 154 kV Birecik transformer center by double-circuit 154 kV transmission lines. When the power plant is commissioned, 652.5 GWh will be produced annual.

    Construction, the procurement of electromechanical equipment and erection work of Karkamis Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant will be carried out by a consortium formed by Elin EV, J.M. Voith AG, Verbundplan Gmbh from Austria and Yuksel Insaat Inc., Temelsu International Engineering Services Inc. from Turkey under the leadership of Elin EV of Austria on a turnkey basis with full financing provided from Austria.

    DSI (Owner) will bear the whole supervising responsibility on the civil construction work and manufacturing and erection activities of the electromechancial equipment.Birecik Dam

    Leaving the inaugural site for Karkamis Dam, President Demirel traveled to the building site of Birecik Dam whose foundation-laying he attended on 23 May 1993.

    At the site, Demirel said that this project would also enable the Euphrates to contribute to the development of the country asa whole.

    "My ears know the sounds on this building site well. These sounds will increase and this project will be completed," Demirel said bristling with pride over this project with an estimated cost of $1 billion.

    He point out in an address to those assembled at the site that Birecik Dam was being built under the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) model and referred to the advantages of this.

    Demirel then pointed to the inappropriateness of differentiating between "locals and foreigners" when the issue is one that concerns the development of the country, especially given that what is being built would remain in Turkey.

    "It is not as if foreign capital is going to take this dam away with it," Demirel said half-jokingly.

    He said that he was visiting the site this time to see how things were going and said he hoped to actually inaugurate the opening of the completed dam the next time he visited.

    Dr. Logters, the administrator of the German partner firm Phillip Holzmann, which has undertaken to build the dam, for his part, referred to Demirel as the "King of Dams" and promised they would complete Birecik on time.

    The Birecik Dam, when completed, will provide 2.5 billion Kwh of electricity per annum and will provide irrigation for 70,000 hectares of land in the Gaziantep and Araban valleys. It will have six units each with a capacity of 112 MW and is planned to start electricity production in the year 2000.

    The construction of the Birecik dam is being undertaken by Turkey's GAMA, the German Philip Holzmann and the Austrian Strabag companies. The power generating plants are being provided by CEGELEC from France, ACEC Energie from Belgium, Sulzer Hydro from Germany and the Turkish GAMA company which collectively comprise the Birecik Company.

    The financing for the dam and the power generation plant is being provided by Hermes of Germany, COFACE of France, Ducroire of Belgium, OKB of Austria and a host of 44 international banks.

    An interesting fact about the Birecik Dam is that so many international companies should have chosen to involve themselves in the project despite various arguments put forward by Syria to stop the project on the grounds that it would deprive it of vital water.

    This is particularly important given the delays in financing the Ataturk High Dam because of pressure by Syria on international companies.When GAP is completed

    When the GAP project is completed in full it will have involved a total of 13 subsidiary projects, seven of them on the Euphrates and six on the Tigris rivers. These projects, aimed at irrigation and energy production will be made up of 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric power generation centers. The irrigation capacity will be l.6 million hectares of land which will all be opened to agriculture.

    The largest of the undertakings within the GAP project, the Ataturk High Dam and hydroelectric power generation center, produces 8.9 billion KwH of electricity each year with its eight turbines of 300 MW capacity each.

    The dams' waters will also be able to irrigate 882,000 hectares of land. Already, 29 billion Kwh of energy have been obtained from the turbines of the Ataturk Dam

    Among the unique feature of the GAP region, or the "Rivers Region" as Demirel calls it, are the Urfa Tunnels. The waters being brought to Urfa by boring through mountains are a blessing which cannot be underestimated as far as the parched lands of this part of the country are concerned.

    Demirel, referring to the overall GAP undertaking, stressed his own background as an engineer and demonstrates in his grasp of the the data that he is in total command of the specifics of this enormous project.

    The facts and figures with which he colors his remarks, statements and addresses proved to be instructive to the most hardy of professionals involved in the project.

    In addition to the engineering aspects, Demirel also highlighted the importance of the areas of education, health, infrastructure, urbanization, environment and cultural development within the context of the GAP project.

    He referred to an international airport in Urfa, the extension of the railway network to Diyarbakir, and to the Harran University and said that these were even more valuable than the GAP project itself.

    During the two-day GAP visit, Demirel's wife Nazmiye accompanied him at every stage. The Demirel family, running around regardless of the extreme heat of the Southeast thus become the symbols of Turkey's race to development.

    Unable to restrain himself back at the electronic nerve center of the Ataturk High Dam, Demirel said gleefully, "greetings to Syria!"

    This was because in order for the eight turbines to operate simultaneously, 1,400 cubic meters per second of water was being sent in Syria's direction. This was in stark contrast to the 500 cubic meters per second that Turkey has committed itself to giving the downstream country.

    The amount Turkey is sending now also allows Syria to compensate for the reduced amounts of water during the high summer months caused by the drought conditions that prevail in this corner of the world.Water scenarios

    During the whole of the visit Demirel avoided referring to the water dispute Turkey has with Arab countries. In fact he tried to reduce tension by continually referring to peace and regional development. Asked if the appeal that GAP brings with it may lead to new threats to the region, Demirel merely referred to the fact that there were many plans to this end and added that all he was concerned about at this stage was the completion of the overall project.

    As it is, the project is far from being finished. At the same time only a few of the regions that can potentially be irrigated by the waters of the Euphrates are being watered as yet. One of the Urfa tunnels is not yet finished. The only tunnel that is working now due to a temporary "Bypass line" that was built is not yet integrated into the overall project due to a lack of funds.

    The marketing of the agricultural goods that will be produced once the irrigation begins in full is also a problem that is looming. There are insufficient processing plants for the cotton that will be grown here and that will rival the cotton grown in Cukurova. In fact, the truth is that there are 604 new factories but when the massive amount of production that will follow from the GAP project is considered, these are seen as minor investments.

    Other problems waiting at the door are diseases that come with the arrival of water, the lack of knowledge in the region about modern irrigation farming, the pollution of good water due tomisuse of fertilizers and land erosion.

    But Demirel's argument her is that "GAP will also be the solution to the problems it creates."

    The truth of the matter is that when the gigantic GAP project is finally finished, it will solve many a domestic problem. It will, however, bring new problems requiring even greater solutions with it. The developmental levels of countries bordering the region are very low. This will inevitably lead to Turkey becoming not just a regional power but also a magnet for illegal immigration by the poor in other countries in the region seeking better lives.

    We already saw the adverse results of such a flow of humanity toward Turkey during and after the Gulf War, although it was for another reason at the time. In short, Turkey has to prepare itself for the wave of migration that will inevitably follow the completion of GAP.

    And when it is finally completed, Syria is no doubt going to claim some rights for itself, even if it does not have any fertile land. It can be argued that it has already started to do so but the level of its claims can be expected to increase due to a combination of factors such as political jealousy, and the disadvantage of receiving "used salinated" water.

    It is not for nothing that a characteristic of the argument about the future of the region has been and continues to be the prospect of a "war over water."

    The wealth that will accompany GAP will also make Turkey's democratic and secular regime an attractive and desirable alternative for people in the region. It is not clear now how the leaderships of the countries in the region that are far from being democratic will handle this situation. But what can be expected is that acts of enmity toward this country in order to destroy its role as an example will mount.

    There are also countries which will see the GAP project as a weapon because if the waters of the Ataturk Dam are released in one go -- provided you are prepared to give up the Birecik and Karkamis Dams -- then it could mean that Syria would be, metaphorically speaking, swept all the way to the Persian Gulf.

    Or if the canals carrying water from the dams between Harran and Ceylanpinar are opened at the same time it is possible to turn the whole region into swampland and prevent the possibility of a land war in the region.

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