Istanbul Municipality approves Bosphorus tunnel mega-project
Fatma Aksu ISTANBUL
DHA PhotoA three-level, sub-sea tunnel project, was recently announced by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, has been approved by the Istanbul Municipality.
Supported by a joint report by the Development and Public Works Commission and the Transportation and Traffic Commission, the project was the main issue on the municipal council’s agenda on March 11.
During discussions, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) opposed the way the project was brought to the city council and demanded it’s reevaluation with the contribution of non-governmental organizations. Members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on the council rejected the CHP’s recommendation.
The joint report was accepted by the council after an hour-long discussion. Most of the CHP’s council members rejected the result and left the council.
Project an ‘election investment,’ says CHP
Before voting began, CHP Deputy Chairman Ertuğrul Gülsever took the floor and said the project was not included in the 1/100,000 zoning plans that were previously announced as “The Constitution of Istanbul” by Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş. Gülsever also emphasized that the project lacked an environmental impact assessment (ÇED) and thorough budget assessments.
“This project was an investment for the upcoming elections in June. It is a shame that we never had the chance to discuss it thoroughly. As a citizen living in Istanbul, I find it disrespectful that this project was imposed on us without discussing its zoning plan, its budget and its impact on the environment and traffic,” Gülsever said.
He stressed that the CHP was not against mega-projects, but objected to the way the tunnel project had been brought to the council, without consulting related organizations, institutions and trade associations.
AKP stands by the project
Meanwhile, the AKP’s deputy chairman at the council, Abubekir Taşyürek, said as a party they were proud of the project, emphasizing its compatibility with legal obligations and the environment.
“There is no legal problem regarding the project. We did not rush anything. The Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry, and experts from the Istanbul Municipality have been working on this project for months. It is also an environmentally-friendly project. According to calculations, fuel oil consumption will decrease by roughly 54 million liters due to the project and carbon emissions will decrease by 175 tons per year. The project will not damage the city’s silhouette either,” Taşyürek said.
The estimated $3.5 billion mega-project, with a three-level, sub-sea tunnel under Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait which will connect the city’s two sides with one railway and two highways, is expected to cut travel times to 14 minutes.