Erdoğan’s giant Istanbul canal back on agenda with a new look
Erdinç Çelikkan ANKARAKanal Istanbul, one of the planned giant projects in the city’s pipeline pushed by the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, will be a canal 43 kilometers long and 400 meters wide with six bridges, according to sources.
Erdoğan, who has dubbed the canal one of the “crazy projects,” has called on related state bodies to accelerate the project, which has fallen off the agenda since being announced as a campaign pledge in the general elections four years ago.
The maximum height of the buildings to be constructed on the banks of the canal will be limited to six stories, creating a residence area for 500,000 people, far below the initial plan for 1.2 million, according to a decision that emerged from a recent meeting attended by the president and related state institutions, sources said.
Seljuk-style architecture will shape the basis of the project, which will turn the European side of Istanbul between the inner Marmara Sea and the Black Sea into an island.
Currently, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) headed Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality is in charge of the project.
The municipality will build two bridges over the canal in addition to four others undertaken by the directorate of highways.
The larger plot foresees new buildings to be constructed at gradual heights to create a city silhouette and the new area will also include villa-style buildings, sources said.
The 25-meter deep canal will allow tankers to by-pass the Bosporus sea traffic, thereby increasing safety on the busy waterway, the government argues. Fees for the speedy passage of ships through the new canal will also bring in money for Istanbul’s budget.
State institutions are said to be currently working on the exact route of the canal.
Plans for a giant third airport in Istanbul have been altered due to the delay in the Kanal Istanbul efforts, as contractors were planning to use soil from the canal excavation as landfill for the airport, which is being constructed over a former mining area to the north of the city. Experts say the delay has caused a big jump in the costs of the airport.
Erodğan, a former Istanbul mayor, is a vocal supporter of gargantuan development projects in Turkey’s largest city. In a speech in November last year, he cited the mega-projects, including the intercontinental Marmaray undersea tunnel and a third bridge over the Bosphorus, as well as the Kanal Istanbul, as reasons for Turkish youths to have “self-confidence.”
Erdoğan’s mega-plans are set to come under the spotlight once again on the eve of the upcoming general elections on June 7, with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu chairing the AKP government this time.
Many environmentalists have raised considerable objections to the Kanal Istanbul project. One of the concerns is the fact that salty water will be brought from the Black Sea through the canal and cause the water in the Marmara Sea to be left without oxygen, which might affect many species of wildlife.
Back in 2013, Cemal Saydam of Hacettepe University and Etham Gönenç from the Civil Engineering Department of Istanbul Technical University claimed that the project would cause the entirety of the area around the Marmara and the Bosphorus to smell of hydrogen sulfide, or rotten eggs.
The underground water sources in the European-side island that will be formed by the canal will become filled with sea water, they also warned.