Lake Van, the largest alkaline lake on Earth is under threat due to serious environmental pollution. This pollution issue was illustrated very well by a NASA award winning photograph taken by astronaut Kate Rubins whilst orbiting the earth in the International Space Station. In the image it can be clearly seen that the Lake faces an enormous pollution crisis.
An awareness raising campaign was started on the social media regarding the massive pollution of Van Lake and the mass construction of hotels on it’s shores, thought to contribute to the pollution with the heading, “Lake Van is our Breath”.
The campaign was initiated by the Van Bar Association Environment and Ecology Commission and received support from environmental associations, non-governmental organisations in the city together with human rights advocates and many other people.
Turkish government policies have also had a negative impact on the preservation efforts of Lake Van. While the city of Van’s previous mayors – two members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), had been taking numerous steps to preserve Lake Van they were stripped of their Mayoral positions and Turkish government ‘trustee’ was imposed by the central AKP ruling government.
Various environmental campaigns were to be organised annually, they had even taken steps for the ‘Lake Van Basin Protection Law’ to be passed as a bill in Turkey’s parliament and Lake Van to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
However after a trustee was appointed by the government to the province, the policies to protect Lake Van came to an abrupt end.
The coastline of the lake is now filled with rubbish dumps, and while the garbage, which also causes the spread of bad smells, is not cleaned, rubble also dumped by the municipalities governed by the trustees, also cause the lake to become even more polluted.