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Is Turkey driving down road to environmental disaster?

The Turkish government’s Green Road Project has turned the quiet residents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s home region into feisty street protesters as they struggle to protect the environment on which their livelihoods and traditions rely.
A digger works on the bed stream of the river Papart in Artvin province, northern Turkey, February 21, 2010. A civil initiative calling themselves "Brotherhood of the Rivers" is struggling to stop hydro power plant projects in Artvin province which they believe will damage the natural habitat badly. Turkey's Electricity Market Regulatory Authority has approved 357 hydro power plant projects in the last three years, said Turkey's Chamber of Electrical Engineer. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: ENERGY ENVI

Local citizens and environmentalists are blaming government greed for deadly floods in northwestern Turkey. On Aug. 24, in Hopa, Artvin (bordering Georgia), a massive flood claimed the lives of eight people, and three more were missing and presumed dead at the time of this writing. Buildings are in ruins and hundreds of cars are stuck in floodwaters and landslides. In the past decade, floods have claimed more than 100 lives, and locals lament the lack of efforts to prevent future disasters.

The mountainous region receives the highest rainfall in Turkey, so one might be tempted to label the area's floods as natural disasters — but environmentalists disagree. They hold the haphazard city planning of money-hungry government elites responsible for the deaths and material losses.

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