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New Cabinet raises concern about environment

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News | 7/6/2011 12:00:00 AM |

A new Cabinet announced Wednesday has caused concern among certain experts that environmental problems may be swept under the rug during the government’s new term.

A new Cabinet announced Wednesday has caused concern among certain experts that environmental problems may be swept under the rug during the government’s new term.

Veysel Eroğlu was appointed to the Forestry and Waterworks Ministry, while Erdoğan Bayraktar was appointed to the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry. Both offices were recently created in the place of older ministries.

“A [new] ministry was formed in order to suit the minister. Urban planning is going to put a lot of pressure on the environment,” said Murat Taşdemir, the president of the management board of the Chamber of Environmental Engineers, in reference to the formation of a new ministry combining both the environment and urban planning.

“The Public Works Ministry, which was founded in 1983, has been completely abolished. [Erdoğan] Bayraktar is a [person] who comes straight from [that area]. There is, however, this glitch: It will be exceedingly difficult to administer a ministry that contains two opposing concepts, as urban planning and the environment... It could result in negative consequences,” said Tayfun Kahraman, the president of the Chamber of Istanbul Urban Planners, but added it was still too early to pass judgment about the new ministers before they had a chance to demonstrate their performance.

Bayraktar formerly served as the head of the Turkey’s Housing Development Administration, or TOKİ, which oversaw the construction of hundreds of thousands of new homes in recent years.

“The Environment Ministry is not an executive [office,] it is a ministry that supervises. The aim here is to completely subvert the supervisory duties of the ministry,” Taşdemir said.

 Eroğlu, who served as the environment and forestry minister, is also known to be a strong proponent of hydro-electric dams, which many environmentalists oppose.

 “Under these circumstances, we would continue voicing our objections because it looks as if there is not much of a change in mentality,” Kahraman said.

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