Ilisu and Belo Monte dams are the symbols of the destruction caused by large dams around the world. These two dam projects are a clear threat to the world’s most important and renowned natural and historical assets: the Amazon, the lungs of the earth and Mesopotamia; the cradle of civilisation.
The Ilisu Dam in Turkey, which will be the second biggest dam in the Middle East, will destroy the historical town of Hasankeyf (which dates back to more than 10,000 years) and a significant part of the Tigris Valley that hosts several endemic and endangered species and important habitats. The area is the only place in the world that meets nine out of 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites’ criteria. Furthermore, around 25,000 people will be displaced because their villages and towns will be inundated. The Ilisu Dam will also affect other important habitats and communities who live and rely on the Tigris River that flows through Mesopotamia all the way to the marshes of Basra in Iraq.
The Amazon Basin, widely referred to as the ‘lungs of the earth’, is home to 60% of the planet’s remaining tropical rainforests. The Belo Monte Dam project will inundate 668 km2, of which 400 km2 consists of forest hosting endemic and endangered species. The dam will also cause the displacement of over 20,000 people including indigenous communities. Up to 80% of the Xingu River will be diverted from its original course, causing a permanent drought on the river’s ‘Big Bend’.
Both projects are the target of highly popular campaigns supported by local communities, national and international NGOs, as well as many celebrities. Ilisu and Belo Monte are merely two examples of destructive dams around the world. There are many other ongoing large dam projects with similar negative impacts to that of Ilisu and Belo Monte.