Not listening to this scream is idiocy
I attended an information conference of the Environment and City Planning Ministry the other day. I heard such things and witnessed such debates that I developed severe headaches. We all know that we are facing a full speed train coming in our direction, but there are still calculations made for personal interests.
The Law on Urban Transformation that is waiting to pass in Parliament is being dragged on. (This name has a lot of antipathy. It is extremely abstract; the citizen has difficulty understanding it. It should openly be named the “Earthquake Law.”)
I watch Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar; he alone is screaming. In the literal sense, in every speech of his there is a scream.
How can he not scream? The earthquake is coming a bit nearer to Istanbul every day. Istanbul means Turkey.
As expected, an earthquake that hit magnitude 7 on the scale would destroy this city. Let alone total destruction, even if half of the city is destroyed, that would mean Turkey would stop and would go bankrupt. Everybody knows this fact. Industry will collapse, the country’s most important and precious investments, its transportation will stop. Schools and hospitals will be flattened; bridges will fall into the sea. Damage estimates are between $200 billion and $300 billion.
In simpler terms, this city has 3.5 million buildings, large or small. Only 500,000 of them will be able to resist a magnitude 7 earthquake, the rest will collapse with whomever is inside them. Millions of people will die. In an earthquake of a lesser magnitude, first, shanty houses, which add up to hundreds of thousands, and also damaged and defective buildings, will go.
Last hope for survival
The Earthquake Law, a part of which has passed and the other half is waiting to pass in Parliament, - let’s leave aside whether it is adequate or inadequate or whether it has drawbacks - is our last hope.
For the first time, we are acting before an earthquake. In this country, there have been eight major earthquakes to date in which 85,000 of our people died. Very few lessons were learned from them. Now, for the first time, a mobilization plan is prepared. For this project to cover the entire country, it would take 15 to 20 years and would cost $100 billion. Especially, money coming from 2-B (sales of deforested land and pasture lands) will be allocated here. Meaning, it already has the necessary funds.
With this law, priority will be given to Istanbul.
First, risky buildings will be determined. This will be done by a delegation made up of experts and academics. Next, in the zones where owners of houses and apartment buildings as well as shanty houses, the ones that will inevitably undergo demolition, will be told, “We will take your houses and build new and strong houses for you or if you want, you may build them yourselves; but you cannot live here anymore.” If there are resisters, they will be evacuated by force of law.
I think this is the most critical project from Turkey’s angle. However, there is still resistance to it.
There are total resisters, there are greedy ones who ask for three in exchange for one, there are local municipalities running after votes and finally there is property-land mafia.
Last weekend, I read the statements of the general manager of Emlak Konut Real Estate Investment Trust, Murat Kurum, in our paper and I got gooseflesh. Old games were being rerun. Kurum explained the situation in well-calibrated words: “Landowners start bargaining at rates of 55 percent to 60 percent. Apartment owners have buildings occupying a ground field of 70 to 80 square meters, a building that would collapse in the first earthquake. They ask us for a new building to be built on 200 square meters.”