The regulation permitting mining in olive groves has not been accepted at the parliament once again, with villagers celebrating the decision with tears of joy.
“If an energy crisis occurs in the coming years, it is the people who try to impress us here by making a crown from an olive branch,” said Mustafa Elitaş, the group deputy chair of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the party that submitted the bill, while referring to the opposition lawmakers who entered the parliament’s energy commission with olive branch crowns.
Along with TEMA, Türkiye’s largest environmental nongovernmental organization, and other nature-defending associations, villagers coming from Milas gathered at the parliament with banners that read “Don’t touch my olive” also called on the AKP deputies to withdraw the bill.
Opposition lawmakers also entered the commission with banners in their hands.
Pointing out that there is a food security and climate crisis in the world, they made a motion to withdraw the regulation, which means “plundering nature” under these conditions and will cause the destruction of forests and olive groves.
Taking the floor after the opposition deputies, Elitaş said, “Our friends are right in their reactions. However, we are concerned about the operation of three power plants in a period of energy crisis in Europe. Our aim is not to distribute money to anyone.”
Later, AKP deputies demanded in the motion they prepared to present to the commission chair that the first article of the bag bill regarding olive groves be removed from the proposal.
The villagers celebrated the decision with tears of joy.
The regulation was submitted to the parliament in November 2020 and was withdrawn with the objection of the opposition and the public.
In March 2022, the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry made a change in the regulation, paving the way for mining activities in olive groves.
After the regulation was published in the Official Gazette, environmentalists criticized the decision and warned that olive groves would be destroyed due to mining activities.
The ministry responded to the criticisms, saying that if mining activities coincide with olive groves, olive trees in the field will not be cut but will be moved, and all expenses will be covered.
Olive trees will be moved to a new area of equal size to the area where the activity will be carried out, with the permission and approval of the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry, it said in a written statement.
Stressing that the relevant company will be responsible for planting fine new saplings for every olive tree that is moved, the statement said the mining company would be obliged to plant five new saplings for each olive tree moved.
It also noted that the site would be rehabilitated and restored after the mining activities are completed.
However, the Council of State decided to stay the execution.