Source: Gazete Duvar, 14 April 2020

Lake Salda is the deepest lake in Turkey and the second deepest lake in the World with a depth of about 185 meters. Situated in the southwestern Turkey, within the boundaries of Yeşilova district of Burdur Province and lying on a 45-square-kilometer area, Salda is home for sea dragons and 110 types of birds. Because there is precipitation of MgCO3 (magnesite), there is no vegetation cover on the three sides of the lake. Because of its geological structure, it can shed light on the forming of the first living organisms and several scientific studies were conducted in the area. On June 31, 2019, the Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) had announced the planned construction of the “Lake Salda Nation’s Garden”. This “Nation’s Gardens,” named by President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, intended for recreational facilities built by the government.

Construction equipment entered the Lake Salda on April 12, which was closed to visitors due to the Coronavirus Outbreak. Salda Lake is a First-Degree Natural Area Under Protection. A total of 2815 square meters of facility will be built around Salda Lake under the project of nation’s garden.

Sand Removal Work Destroyed the Ecosystem.

The lake ecosystem was damaged after the sand removal work on April 12. Locals raised criminal complaint about the construction company due to the violation of decision to declare the area as Special Environmental Under Protection. “They destroyed the nature formed in thousands of years in one day,” said the lawyer of the locals. And TOKİ announced that that those responsible have been dismissed immediately. “We will install a camera on Lake Salda. Those who wish can monitor our project at any time,” said the Minister of Environment.

Construction Equipment is Working on an Area Where It Should Not Be Walked With Shoes!

In the bill of complaint of the locals, it was stated that about 5 hectares of sand area was destroyed by construction equipment and the sands were transported in the area. “In scientific studies, it was determined that there are living creatures formed as a result of bio-mineralization. Scientists have stated that these removed sands will darken soon where they are carried, and that the places where the sands were taken are like wounds in the body of a living creature, and it is impossible to restore it,” said in the bill of complaint. It is also stated that the destruction of the area by removing the sand is clearly a violation of the Law on the Protection of Cultural and Natural Assets. “Official authorities and anyone who is responsible have directly participated in the execution of this crime. For this reason, we demand that all the people who send the construction equipment and transportation vehicles to the region and destroy the sandy area, be taken into custody and be punished by filing a public lawsuit,” stated in the bill.

Commenting on the construction works in Lake Salda, the Minister of Environment and Urbanization, said that the shared images do not reflect the projects focused on protecting the Lake: “Our project is for protecting Salda for the future generations in the most beautiful way with its white beaches and turquoise color,” he commented. “In the first place, we ended unplanned, crooked construction and unconscious use of the Lake. We banned the entrance of the vehicles right to the shore of the lake, banned the camps and caravans, we removed the garbage. Working together with our scientists we decided to use wooden materials that are compatible with nature,” he added. As he claimed, the citizens would be able to monitor the construction process 24/7 with network camera on the internet anytime they want.

Currently, a campaign protesting the construction project continues on social media with the hashtags  #SaldayaDokunma (Do Not Touch Salda Lake) and  #MilletParkınaDeğilKoronayaBütçe (Invest in Fighting with COVID-19 Not in Building Nation’s Garden).