Duvar English 

A legislative proposal allowing thermal power plants to continue to operate without modernized filters two-and-a-half more years has been approved in the Turkish parliament, by the votes of the deputies from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).   

The announcement was made by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Ali Fazıl Kazap on Nov. 21. “The 50th article of the omnibus bill which was discussed in the general assembly of the parliament, has been accepted by the votes of the AKP and MHP [deputies]. With this, 15 thermal power plants currently existing in Turkey will continue to poison our people two-and-a-half more years. Shame on you!” wrote Kazap on his Twitter account.  

CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel said in a written statement on Nov. 22 they will take this issue to the Constitutional Court. “We think that in line with our people’ right to breath clean air, the Constitutional Court will give a ruling in favor of our application. The ruling Justice and Development Party, instead of giving these companies [thermal power plant owners] fines for not abiding by the regulations, is preferring to award them for polluting the environment,” Özel said.

Meanwhile, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on Nov. 22 protested the approval of the bill during a meeting of the parliament’s planning and budget committee in which also Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez participated. HDP deputies Erol Katırcıoğlu and Garo Paylan held placards protesting the existence of thermal power plants in Turkey.  

“Thermal power plants are polluting the environment. People living near thermal power plants have 10, 20, 50 and sometimes 100 times higher death rates compared to other people. Children living near thermal power plants have 50 times higher risk of getting asthma,” Paylan was quoted as saying during the meeting by the news website Bianet.  

“And the deputies gave a ‘Yes’ vote [for the relevant bill]. What will they say to our people who live in those regions? And how will you account before the public, honored minister? Why did you not take a stand against it [the bill]?” Paylan said, in an address to Minister Dönmez.  

Paylan also recalled former Energy Minister Berat Albayrak’s statement that all old coal power plants in Turkey were required to update and renew their entire filtering systems according to the latest technological and environmental criteria by the year of 2019. 

“Two years ago, during the budget meeting, the then-Energy Minister Berat Albayrak had said ‘We’ll never extend [the filtration requirement].’ ‘We’ll have no pity [on coal power plant owners],’ he had said. And you know what? We believed that,” Paylan said.