The number of sinkholes has risen substantially in a year due to the excessive use of groundwater for irrigation purposes in the Konya Plain in the central Turkish province, which is known as the “grain silo” of Turkey due to its vast wheat fields.
While authorities have been working on plans on how to fill the voids, the number of sinkholes, which was around 330 last year, has almost doubled to 600 this year in the region, which is highly affected by drought caused by global warming.
No casualties were reported so far, but sinkholes render a significant portion of fields unusable.
The Sinkhole Application and Research Center in the province of Konya has initiated a comprehensive study on sinkholes that pose a danger to agricultural life and scare residents in the region.
“Until the beginning of 2020, we had determined the number of sinkholes to be around 350-360 in the region. We think that this number is at the level of 600 or even more now,” said Fetullah Arık, head of the center, adding that a significant part of the basin carries risk.
Arık underlined the need for a mechanism involving all stakeholders to curb uncontrolled groundwater use.
Sinkholes are almost exclusive to the Konya Plain, which stretches as far as the neighboring province of Karaman.
While some sinkholes are shallow, others can be as deep as 150 meters.
Sinkholes are a fairly recent phenomenon, but the uncontrolled use of water since the 1970s is the main factor behind their rise.