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In Turkey, dev­as­tat­ing and prof­it-moti­vat­ed “projects” respect nei­ther com­mon sense nor the coro­n­avirus… While all eyes are turned toward the pan­dem­ic, con­crete moves forward…

The lat­est exam­ple involves Lake Sal­da in the Yeşilo­va dis­trict of the Turk­ish province of Bur­dur. A par­adise is to be destroyed in a project named – what a joke – “The Nation’s Gar­den”, cov­er­ing 300 square miles.

lac saldaLake Sal­da, known as the “Turk­ish Mal­dives” is fed from a sin­gle source, the Düden stream. In 2016 already, con­struc­tion had begun of an arti­fi­cial pond on the Düden “for flood pre­ven­tion”. But the res­i­dents had protest­ed against this project that was caus­ing visu­al pol­lu­tion and threat­ened the lake’s water sup­ply. A legal bat­tle ensued and the courts decid­ed to sus­pend the project and to annul the Min­istry’s deci­sion for which “an envi­ron­men­tal impact assess­ment was not required.” Nonethe­less, while the legal pro­ce­dures were ongo­ing, the Gen­er­al Water Direc­torate con­tin­ued and com­plet­ed the construction.

Now, despite the chal­lenges and protests by the pop­u­la­tion, the lay­er­ing in con­crete seems to be on the verge of becom­ing a real­i­ty with the Nation’s Gar­den project. When we speak of lay­er­ing in con­crete, this is not a fig­ure of speech, the con­tain­ers are already in place, in order to pour con­crete into… the clear blue water.

In 1989, as a reminder, Lake Sal­da and its sur­round­ings were declared a “1st degree nat­ur­al site”. Sal­da, a tec­ton­ic lake cov­er­ing 44 square km and with a depth of 184 m, is the sec­ond deep­est lake in Turkey. As the pho­tos illus­trate, this lake is known to be the purest and the most limpid in Turkey. Its waters rich in mag­ne­sium, lye and clay are ben­e­fi­cial for cer­tain skin dis­eases such as yeast infec­tions and acne. Bathing being allowed, the beach­es around the lake are much appre­ci­at­ed by the locals. The hydro­bi­o­log­i­cal fea­tures pro­vid­ing the lake with all its beau­ty are direct­ly relat­ed to the nat­ur­al struc­ture that sur­rounds it. It should also be not­ed that sci­en­tif­ic research con­duct­ed on the lake is said to reveal infor­ma­tion con­cern­ing the bio­log­i­cal begin­nings of life on earth.

The lake is sur­round­ed by a for­est of pines and fir trees giv­ing shel­ter to par­tridges, hares, boars, and the lake also shel­ters 110 bird species includ­ing wild ducks.

On the tourist road lead­ing toward Pamukkale, Sal­da is a sum­mer stopover for tourists who can­not find pen­sions there but have camp­ing spaces galore.

The firm that obtained the bid launched on July 31 2019 has already installed its con­tain­ers and white lined the build­ing zones. As for the Min­istry of the Envi­ron­ment and of Urban­ism, it announced at the same time that it declared the zone a “Spe­cial­ly pro­tect­ed zone for the environment.”

In a joint press release last year, AKP deputies for Bur­dur, Bayram Özçe­lik and Yasin Uğur announced that the num­ber of vis­i­tors had reached 1 mil­lion 300 thou­sand. “In the 1000 square meter area of pub­lic beach, there will be cafes, buf­fets, cab­ins, wash­rooms, a mosque, an admin­is­tra­tive unit, a health and res­cue ser­vice, park­ing spaces as well as com­mer­cial ser­vices. As for the loca­tion known as Beyaz adalar (the white islands) an enclosed space of 1715 square meter will be pro­vid­ed for the visitors.”

There exists a plat­form called “Hands Off my Sal­da Lake” for indi­vid­u­als and civ­il soci­ety orga­ni­za­tions fight­ing for the lake’s protection.

Its spokesper­son, Gazi Osman Sakar speaks with deter­mi­na­tion: “Lake Sal­da is an enclosed basin. Filth can gath­er there with no nat­ur­al means of dis­charge. Our aim is to pro­tect the beau­ty of Sal­da. Yet, those in pow­er see every­thing in terms of ambi­tions for prof­it. This is why they want to destroy Sal­da also. We will do every­thing in our pow­er to pro­tect this zone. I wish to spec­i­fy that the firm in ques­tion changed its plans after obtain­ing the bid. Even the firm itself does not know exact­ly what it will be doing over there…”

Fol­low: #SaldaGölüne­Dokun­ma Twit­ter @saldadayanisma

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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