We did not pollute! Those who did should leave!

We did not pollute! Those who did should leave!
July 10th, 2006

Could it be the misfortune?

The draft environmental impact report of Dilovası has been prepared for publication. Yet, while expectations were high for it to bring solutions, the report itself has created more problems. The people of Fatih and Yeni Yıldız neighborhoods are concerned these days because the report suggests that the people living in these regions should be relocated. People who had settled prior to industry’s expansion to that area are saying they will not move and demand that those who came later, like the looters settling in their meadow should be the ones to leave.

Yes, the industrialists are the looters of a meadow, they are the murderers of a history, they are the enemy of the environment and they are as much killers as the health system which murders an innocent child in a lonely room at a hospital. Poisonous smoke rises unceasingly from Dilovası. Nobody asks what makes this smoke. The historic Mimar Sinan Bridge looks depressed, I hear it say, it must be misfortune. The once clear waters of Dil Creek that flows under it now flows only death. It flows poison that kills the sea, destroys our water, and spreads an unbearable stench.

The forest area in Fatih is saying, it must only be misfortune. It is being cut slowly, and is turning into a storage space for the chemical tanks. The small baby pine trees are being cut before having a chance to grow or to greet the gulf in the distance.

Maybe it is due to misfortune, the factories that were built when Yıldız was a residential area, having grown to a size to swallow the whole neighborhood, is now threatening it. They told the residents that they either had to leave or to die. Yes, now they are being forced to leave. So, what will the looters of this meadow do when the people leave? Will they stay where they are and continue killing the rest of the living there or, grow and spread more and build higher smokestacks to kill more people in the distance?

The answer to these and many other questions are unfortunately unknown.

50 thousand people live in Dilovası and 50 thousand more commute there to work every day. That makes 100 thousand lives. How many of them are sick from the pollution no one knows. There are only 3 health clinics in Dilovası to tackle the diseases brought upon the people by the pollution. Why there is not a single hospital in Dilovası I don’t know. It must be the misfortune, I think.

Maybe Dilovası will have its own voice one day and will reveal what it went through. Maybe it will tell the story of who polluted its earth; who destroyed its meadow; maybe it will tell who was killed, or, maybe it will be silenced till it completely disappears one day. But as for us, who do not live there, we should decide now on what we will do when Dilovası tells it all. Maybe, due to this misfortune, the new occupiers of the meadow may not like what they will hear and…

We did not pollute. Those who did should leave!

The people of Fatih say they will not leave their homes and those who did the polluting in Dilovası should be the ones to leave. The mayor, Mustafa Cebeci says, “We are not leaving and we will not be relocated.” He says his region had the least cancer rate and adds, “We will sue those who claim the cancer rate is high in our neighborhood to force us to move. I dare them to come and do a research on the health of the people here. Let them reveal how many people have cancer. All these rumors and events are to clear the area for the industrialists. The commission that prepared the report is a playmate of the industrialists and is being guided by them.”

The people living under the Adatepe Municipality in the neighborhood say their area was designated to become a national park, but they have not seen any action to implement this while the area is becoming a chemical warehouse and storage for the industrialists. The mayor there says, “We will file complaints about those who destroy our health and psychology. The forest area is being occupied by the industrialists. We have been living here and will not evacuate because we did not pollute, those who did should be the ones leaving.”

Is the solution to abandon our homes?

Turan Cebeci shows the roots of the trees cut down

One of the residents, Turan Cebeci says, “We do not get any benefit from the industrial plants here. Instead of forcing people to leave, the factories should implement the necessary preventive measures. There should not be any more growth of industry here, and unused space should be allocated for cleaning up and more filtering of pollution. There needs to be more environmental planning and the municipality should increase its inspections and regulations. This place is a land erosion area. If we have an earthquake or a landslide these industrial plants will collapse. How will the state recover from this? To abandon our homes is not a solution. We are not much interested in who is in it and what kind of structure this so-called commission has. This commission should do its real job and come to the right conclusions based on scientific knowledge.”

People of Adatepe say they are distressed about the cutting of young pine trees. They also say they have been living there a long time and would not abandon their homes.

We should get compensated for the value of our homes

The women of Yeni Yıldız are complaining of the unbearable stench and the dust the industry is creating. They want to leave if they get compensated for the value of their homes. But they refuse to live under warehoused conditions of apartment type residences. The women want an area where they could continue the relationships they had with their neighbors they established for years, their homes and their trees they grew.

Industry should not be built this way

Mustafa Şermet, the mayor of Yeni Yıldız says the only demand they have about the Environmental Report is for it to be done on the side of the people. He adds, “When we settled here first, there was no industry. The wrong policies of the local governments brought us here. Instead of factories and plants, we used to have vineyards and olive gardens.” He says they are not against the establishment of industry, but are against the corrupt way these were built in wrong places. He says promises were given that the factories would implement safety measures by the end of 2006. This is all they want, he adds. They wish for those who are not already sick to live a healthy life at least. Mayor also repeats the wish of the women who will consider moving only if they get compensated with the full value of their homes.

It should be the peoples’ decision

dernekbaskani-2006-07-10The head of the Dilovası Environment and Ecology Association, Ercan Teker, which was established after the people started facing the environmental problems, said he read the report in the media and he found some positive points in it also. He adds, “The problem stems from the arrogance of the industrial establishments. Moving the residents from here will not solve the issue. Even if the residents should move, it should be done by the decision of the people themselves. People should not be victimized.” He also adds that the solution could come from the industry if they established universally accepted norms of safety measures.

Photography and interview by Süriye Çatak / Kocaeli.