25 June 2019 16:08

Anti-pollution conservation plans at Munzur Springs elicit no response from provincial governate

Speaking about pollution at the conservation site of Munzur Springs, Ovacık Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül indicated that the provincial governate had not replied to conservation plans.

Photograph: Evrensel



In the summer months, tens of thousands of local and foreign tourists visit the Munzur Springs. The rubbish left over from visitors’ picnics is polluting the conservation site. I spoke to visitors and Ovacık Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül about the impact this onslaught of visitors in the summer months has. With visitors pointing to the need for this area to be conserved, Sarıgül noted that they had drawn up plans for the springs to be conserved but had as yet been unable to obtain a reply from the provincial governate.


Expressing her fondness for nature, Ayten Baranoğlu, who had come to visit the springs from Ankara, said, “I would like conservation sites to be better protected. There have been picnics and there’s rubbish and these are things that pollute our nature. Such things need to be supervised closely. I haven’t even been able to see a vehicle to collect the rubbish. There are structures for shopping and they shouldn’t be there. If there was such a place in Europe it might be far more valuable. Conservation sites should be protected as they are. We need to cherish and nurture them.”


For her part, visiting from Ankara, Yıldız Öztoprak, said, “This is a place boasting magnificent nature but, unfortunately, there has been construction and the reason we come here is the nature but the picnicking at the water’s edge is upsetting and also harms nature. It causes fire, too. If we are to defend these values of ours, we mustn’t act in this way. The aim of coming here shouldn’t be to have a picnic it should be to fuse with nature.”


Ovacık Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül, in turn, stating that the springs were seventeen kilometres away from the municipal boundaries, said, “Partial work has been conducted here in the time of all our past mayors but we can’t do more because it’s a conservation site. Currently, authority in terms of ownership of this place rests with Tunceli Provincial Governate Province Special Administration. In terms of cultural assets, they come under the authority of Erzurum Conservation Board. As such, we as a municipality are unable to engage in a great deal of activity.” Stressing that the springs were a holy place for the people of Dersim, Sarıgül said, “We think a certain area needs to be put aside for worship. Also, visitors should stop using the area as picnic space. We have drawn up plans with various friendly bodies and submitted these to the provincial governate. Along with this, we have conducted petitions with heavy participation but we have been unable to prevent this problem. There have even been occasional altercations with our municipal police officers. We have done work also bringing the sub-provincial governate and village association on board. We decided to create a platform and applied to the provincial governate, too, but no reply has yet come from the provincial governate.”


Stating that their aims at the first stage was to keep the place clean, Sarıgül remarked, “While the springs are sacred, they are at the same time heritage for the whole of humanity. The people’s consent must be obtained for everything done there. No work done there without obtaining the people’s consent produces any result. Hence, we are holding and will hold petitions and rallies to protect the area to the extent we can. The media is important in this regard and they too must turn their attention in this direction. In this five-year period, we will do all we can both to extend Ovacık Municipality’s area of authority and, in conjunction with other bodies, for Munzur Springs Meadow to remain an asset.”


At the same time touching on the constructions being made for commercial purposes at the springs that fall within the conservation site and its use as a picnic area, Sarıgül said, “Prefabricated portable spaces are being made by local people to derive an income. It is known that there is an economic crisis in the country and local constructions cannot be prohibited too much under such circumstances. It does not fall within the remit of the sub-provincial governate. It seems that this is how things will be this year. We previously discussed the creation of picnic areas outside the springs and the presence of commercial constructions there and developed plans relating to this, but it did not attain the provincial governate’s approval.”

(Translated by Tim DRAYTON)