Bursa’s Gemlik to be relocated due to ‘earthquake threat’
BURSA - Doğan News Agency
The district of Gemlik in the western province of Bursa on the coast of the Sea of Marmara will be relocated to a higher elevation, since it is currently located on a fault line that sits on an alluvial foundation, the government announced as part of a newly issued state of emergency decree released on Dec. 24.
The move came after decree number 696 included a special article for the Gemlik district, which said “due to the danger Bursa’s Gemlik district faces from earthquakes and the obligation for locals to move out of their current residential areas, areas that cannot be utilized for scientific purposes or cultivated” are to be removed from protection as forest areas and have therefore been transferred to the treasury from the Directorate General of Forestry.
This article has thereby paved the way for construction to be undertaken on the mountainsides of the Gemlik valley, which had previously been forbidden in order to protect olive grove plantations.
Gemlik Mayor Refik Yılmaz from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) organized a press meeting on Dec. 25 regarding the development.
“Although the 1999 earthquake’s center was not based here, we had experienced the quake in a very severe way. The area where Gemlik district sits on has a completely muddy base. Since the construction material consists of sea sand, the foundational support of the buildings has weakened. In our four neighborhoods, approximately 50,000 of our citizens are facing a big risk. God forbid there be a quake with a magnitude of six. We face the risk of losing thousands of our citizens,” he said.
“The special article that was issued with the decree has paved the way for Gemlik. Gemlik sits on an alluvial foundation. We are a district that sits on a fault line. There are approximately 10,000 housing blocks at risk. In the initial stage of construction, by building over 8,000 housing blocks, we plan to move these risky blocks [up on the mountain to a higher elevation with a firmer base],” Yılmaz said.
The mayor said the district had recently constructed 1,400 housing blocks, but the demand for them has been as high as 17,000. Thanks to the recent decree, which has cleared the way for construction on areas they previously could not, they can now meet the demand, he said.
“We have prepared our [construction] projects, but when someone says ‘Gemlik,’ olives come to mind. Our district is surrounded by olives. So, we also have to protect the olives. For that reason, we have initially presented our projects to the Forestry Ministry, which has found them appropriate based on the analyses they have conducted. Afterwards, they have been approved by the president and the prime minister. We will move Gemlik to the maquis shrubland on the mountain slopes that have a rocky foundation and cannot be utilized as forests anyway. About 300 hectares of land will hopefully be allocated to the treasury from the Forestry Ministry,” said the mayor.