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From the ancient citadel overlooking the valley, Ridvan Ayhan looks at the Tigris with a furrowed brow.The small town of Hasankeyf, in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast, inhabited for 12,000 years, is doomed to disappear in the months to come. An artificial lake, part of the Ilisu hydroelectric dam project, will swallow it up.The dam, which will be Turkey's second largest, has been built further downstream the Tigris.Ilisu is a central element of the Southeastern Anatolia Project, a land development plan to boost the economy of the long-neglected region through hydroelectric energy and irrigation.Confronted with the imminent flooding of their town and a hundred villages, the 3,000 habitants of Hasankeyf are divided.In one lengthy operation last August, the 1,600-ton Artuklu Hamam bathhouse was loaded onto a wheeled platform and moved down a specially constructed road to its new home.During the inauguration of the Ilisu construction site in 2006, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then prime minister, promised the dam would bring "the greatest benefit" to local people.A few weeks ago, Agalday went to the neighboring province of Sanliurfa to see Halfeti village, submerged for 20 years because of a dam on the Euphrates.
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