TODAY’S – Kolin’s coal mines exempt from ED

Kolin’s coal mines exempt from EDCoal mines that provided raw materials for a thermal power plant to be operated by Hidro-Gen Enerji, a member of the pro-government Kolin Holding, in Manisaand#39s Soma district were exempt from the obligation to provide an environmental impact assessment (ED) report.The Kolin Group, which is also a part of the consortium that won the mega-project for a new airport in Istanbul, had promised in the ED for the thermal plant that it wouldnand#39t start construction until it received permission to use the land in Soma for non-agricultural purposes.

But the companyand#39s workers chopped down 475 olive trees in two days without waiting for the permission to be granted. Villagers tried in vain to prevent their orchards from destruction, many of them getting injured in a fight with Kolinand#39s men.

Greenpeace Mediterranean lawyer Deniz Bayram noted in a statement on Thursday that the ED exemption for the mines was obtained by the Ministry of the Environment and Urban Affairs in accordance with Temporary Article 3 of the ED Regulations, which had already been scrapped by the Council of State. It was also annulled by the Constitutional Court in July this year after the government attempted to reinstitute it last year, said the lawyer andldquoDespite the mining disaster in Soma a couple of months ago, the coal mines to provide raw materials for a thermal power plant that will be built there are being exempted from the ED.

The ED is not only an assessment about the environmental impacts of a project, but it also includes the process of evaluating safety and security conditions and measures. The [deadly coal mine] disasters in Soma, and most recently in Karaman, highlight the importance of the prerequisite [of having done the ED properly],andrdquo the lawyer said.

Bayram also said that there were over 6,000 olive trees in the area where the energy plant is construction is planned. andldquoThe area of the mine in question was not given permission by the Manisa Province Directorate of Agriculture to be used for any other purpose apart from agriculture,andrdquo he said, adding that in spite of this nearly 1,000 olive trees were cut down.

There had previously been disputes between security personnel working for the Hidro-Gen Energy firm — a subsidiary of the Kolin Group that was tapped to build the plant in the YIrca village and village residents. On the morning of Oct.

21, a group of volunteers who had assembled to protect the trees were beaten by security guards employed by the Kolin group. Some of the volunteers were handcuffed by the guards.

A 2013 article added to a main environmental law enabled the necessary structures and facilities pertaining to projects that were in the planning stage or in the tender process to be exempt from obtaining ED reports. However, in 2014 the Constitutional Court opted to partially invalidate this article, ruling that it was unconstitutional.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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