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Istanbul Referendum: Mayor Imamoğlu calls for a plebiscite for Canal Istanbul

İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality has presented a negative report to the Ministry of Environment & Urbanization on the “Canal İstanbul” project, which was presented as a “crazy project” by the AK Party Chair and the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. According to the report; with Canal Istanbul, Sazlıdere Reservoir and Terkos Lake will be destroyed, the climate will change, distance to European continent will enlarge by 1 kilometers. Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu called for a “mini-referendum” against the project, initiating a call for plebiscite in Istanbul.

İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality has presented a negative report to Ministry of Environment and Urbanization against “Canal İstanbul” project. The report explained Canal Istanbul project’s “dreadful” effects on the city.

Ministry of Environment and Urbanization held Research Assessment Commission (RAC) meeting on 28 November 2019 to finalize Canal Istanbul Project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality was represented in the meeting by the Head of Public Works and Urban Planning Department Gürkan Akgün, who presented a negative view

“SAZLIDERE RESERVOIR AND TERKOS LAKE WILL BE DESTROYED”

From the news article by Sözcü newspaper’s Özlem Güvenli;  there were striking details in the negative institution feedback presented by the municipality in the RAC meeting.

Municipality’s report said that Canal İstanbul Project would negatively impact the ecological sources since it would pass through Sazlıdere and Terkos water basin and emphasized on the fact that the agricultural area included in the project area would not be able to be used for agriculture after the project is realized.

The report also drew attention to the destruction of Sazlıbosna and Terkos water basins, and the salinization risk of groundwaters and Terkos Lake which would threaten the region’s water sources.

EXCAVATION WILL CHANGE THE GEOGRAPHY

It was underlined that in the project, it was planned for the excavation that would arise from canal digging to be removed by creating fill areas on the Black Sea coastline, which would cause irreversible changes to landscape as well.

Canal Istanbul Project route and along with the area that surrounds it; it would not be enough to keep the ecological sustainability of Sazlıbosna Lake water basin’s north; water basins, agricultural areas, forests and many other natural resources which make up the life support of the city in the fragile geography of İstanbul.

CLIMATE WILL CHANGE

It was underlined that the structural areas that will result from Canal İstanbul Project and around will cause changes in temperature, humidity, vaporization and wind regimes and create urban heat islands. It was said that “These areas will create adverse outcomes in regards to climate change.”

It was noted that Istanbul’s forests, ground and underground water sources, meadows and grasslands, coastal sand dunes, endemic species in this region would come to extinction level due to new developing areas that are against the existing city development plans during and after the construction of project.

Canal Istanbul project is stated to be against all the existing city development plans in all scales and there is a special emphasis on the fact that it is not produced as a result of scientific analysis studies by saying “It is not possible to say anything positive about Canal Istanbul project with regards to ecological sustainability, urban planning principles & rules and public interest.”

A NEW ISLAND WITH 8 MILLION POPULATION

TEMA Foundation (The Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion) also participated in the Research Assessment Commission (RAC) meeting at Ankara and voiced their appeal to project.

In the statement made by TEMA Foundation; it was noted that there is a plan to create an island of 97.600 hectares with 8 million residents, saying “EIA does not predict how a canal built in a densely populated earthquake zone would react during a potential earthquake.”

Project’s EIA reminded that Sazlıdere Dam, one of İstanbul’s main water sources, would be out of action which would mean that İstanbul could lose an important water source.

CALL FOR REFERANDUM

Mayor İmamoğlu stated that the Directorate General of State Hydraulic Works (DSI) had also presented a negative report at the Research Assessment Commission (RAC) meeting. He also said that the municipality was completely against the project and suggested a plebiscite to decide whether the project would be done or not.

İmamoğlu also mentioned the excavation that would come out of the construction, which would be around 1.5 billion cubic meter, “What does it mean to have 1.5 billion cubic meter of excavation? It means Esenler, Bağcılar and Güngören districts would rise up around 30-35 meters. We will not let this city to be betrayed.”

EUROPEAN CONTINENT WOULD BE FARTHER BY 1 KILOMETRES

Coined as “crazy project” by the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure planned the Canal İstanbul project and it has been on the front burner since 2011.

Canal İstanbul project is planned to be 45 km long with 20.75 meters depth, and it will pass through Küçükçekmece, Avcılar, Arnavutköy and Başakşehir districts. The project’s cost is estimated to be 75 billion Turkish liras.

With the construction of the canal, the mainland that works as a bridge and separates Küçükçekmece Lake from Sea of Marmara would open by one kilometer. The construction of canal is expected to last 7 years, and the digging stage is going to take 4 years, which would result with 1 billion 155 million 668 thousand cubic meters of excavation.

Translated by Demet Demir

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