By Evie Andreou
TURKEY on Friday denied reports that it had shut down the water transfer to the north over disagreements about who would manage distribution, saying the valves were temporarily closed due to testing works.
Reports were rife that the water was cut off as a reaction to the proposal by Turkish Cypriots that supply was to be administrated by the ‘municipalities’ in the north through the newly established private company BESKI.
The 80km long underwater pipeline is expected to transfer 75 million cubic meters of water per year from the Alakopru reservoir in Mersin to one built specially in Panagra in the north.
The ‘project of the century’ as it has been called, was the brainchild of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who inaugurated the project last month.
However, there have been widely reported disagreements as to the management of the project even before it began flowing.
Under the agreements concluded between Turkey and the breakaway regime, management of the water would be undertaken by a private company qualified in running build-operate-transfer models.
But the Turkish Cypriots later challenged these terms and asked for management rights to be given to the existing ‘municipalities’, which set up BESKI.
Turkish Cypriot daily Diyalog reported that the move came after the breakaway regime refused to accept the proposal made by Turkey for the privatisation of the water management and that Turkey had also decided to suspend the flow of investment money to the north, which would curtail any projects belonging to ‘municipalities’ and ‘ministries.
But the Turkish ministry of forestry and water affairs said in an announcement on Friday that the claims that the valves were closed due to management disputes did not reflect reality. It was a necessary testing process that needed to be done from time to time, it said.
“When the construction is completed and water runs into each dam, several tests should be made. Controls are made to specify the safety of the reservoirs and for leaks and this is why the flow of water to the dam in Panagra stopped,” the ministry’s announcement said.
It added that it was technically impossible to completely fill the dam at once and that water supply would be increased gradually.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris on Friday quoted the director of Turkey’s Water Affairs Department, Birol Cinar, saying the water has stopped flowing temporarily due to routine testing.
Cinar denied allegations published in the press that there is a crisis between Turkey and the breakaway regime. He said the testing works would be concluded in 15 days.
On the issue of water management, the Turkish Cypriot side said consultations with Ankara continue.