Shafaq News / Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced, after a weekly cabinet meeting, that Turkey will start operating the first turbines in Elisu Dam in southeastern Turkey next week.
"We will start operating one of 6 turbines for Elisu Dam, one of the largest irrigation and energy projects in our country, on May 19," Erdogan said in a speech.
The dam, which was approved by the Turkish government in 1997 to generate electricity for the region, caused the displacement of about 80,000 people from 199 villages, and raised concerns in neighboring Iraq as fear from its impact on water supplies from the Tigris River.
After years of delays, Turkey began filling the dam reservoir in July, at a time when activists leading a campaign against the project called for the reservoir to be emptied for environmental and cultural concerns.
Turkey has built the Elisu Dam on the Tigris River that originates from the Taurus Mountains, southeast of Anatolia in Turkey, and has a length of about 1718 km, 1,400 km of which is inside Iraq.
The dam will generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity, making it the fourth largest dam in Turkey in terms of production capacity.
Since 2017, water shortages in Iraq have led to measures such as banning the cultivation of rice and pushing farmers to abandon their lands. Basra witnessed months of protests over the lack of safe drinking water.
Along with the Euphrates, the Tigris is a lifeline for many Iraqis, as the rivers feed many water stations, and their water is used to irrigate the crops along their banks.
Iraq has been suffering, for years, from the low water levels of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, due to the lack of rain in the winter.