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Artvin Kabaca Valley Hydro power plant, Turkey


Six small hydroelectric power plants are constructed in the Artvin Kabaca Valley, as part of 200 hydroelectric power plants being constructed or planned to be constructed in the provinces of Rize and Artvin. The constructions result in destruction of forests, destruction of waterbeds and aquatic environment. Fragmentation of natural areas and ravage created by energy transmission lines, destruction of hillsides by earth-moving machinery used in road constructions and filling of river beds constitute subjects of serious contestations not only in the region but also in the country.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Artvin Kabaca Valley Hydro power plant, Turkey
State or province:Artvin
Location of conflict:Murgul
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Dams and water distribution conflicts
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Though it is very difficult to state precisely, the installed capacity of the 6 hydroelectric power plants in Murgul Kabaca Valley is around 50 MW.

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Project area:10000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:5,000-10,000
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:AKFEN Holding Co. from Turkey
ZORLU Holding Co. from Turkey
SANKO Holding Co. from Turkey
Relevant government actors:Regional Directorate of Forestry, Regional Directorate of State Hydraulic Works, Regional Directorate of Forestry and Water Affairs
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Groups opposing to the current state of affairs if not categorically opposing to the hydroelectric power plants: WWF, Green Artvin Association, The Turkish Foundation for Combatting Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA in Turkish acronym), Environmentalists of Black Sea
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Great Anatolian March: People from all parts of Anatolia organised a walk that lasted 40 days. Groups departing from different points at the end joined each other in Ankara: They flow to Ankara like rivers and streams and said: 'We shall walk for the sake of our respect for the past and our commitment to the future of our children. To defend nature and our right.'
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents
Potential: Accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsPotential allergies and asthma due to constantly living under dust clouds.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Other socio-economic impactsIncome Loss
Reduced access to water
Loss of cultural heritage
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
New legislation
Violent targeting of activists
Development of alternatives:Energy efficiency, energy saving, solar, wind, geothermal energy use, energy efficient architectural applications, environmental friendly construction of absolutely must do hydroelectric power plants and zero alternative for certain projects.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Even though the court has adopted a motion for stay of execution due to EIA reports and bad practices and even though cash fine has been handed down, parties in charge of the project continue their activities. If nothing else works, employees of the regional administrative courts are assigned to other places.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

The legislation is constantly being modified against nature conservation. Concerning the dichotomy of development-conservation, the public is predetermined in favor of development. Policies are devoid of content for a network of protected areas. It is doubtful whether public interest shapes public policy or private interest.

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Islar, M. (2012). Struggles for recognition: privatisation of water user rights of Turkish rivers, Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability', 17:3, 317-329.

Islar, M. 2012. Privatised hydropower development in Turkey: A case of water grabbing? Water Alternatives 5(2): 376-391

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Great Anatolian March,
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Oguz Kurdoglu
Last update08/04/2014
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