Project to renew 2,700 buildings in clash-hit Cizre to cost $1.3 billion
İdris Emen – ŞIRNAK
AFP photoJustice and Development Party (AKP) government has initiated plans to demolish and rebuild a total of 2,700 houses in the Cizre district of southeastern Şırnak province after 78 days of anti-terror operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) severely damaged residential areas.
The project, estimated to cost some 4 billion Turkish liras ($1.3 billion), sparked criticism among a group of residents who demand increased transparency.
The district governorate in Cizre sent a notification to locals, asking that they vacate their houses immediately, in order to initiate efforts to demolish and rebuild the district’s damaged houses as part of an urban transformation project.
“Technical personnel from the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning determined buildings with severe damage and are under risk of collapse,” the statement said. “Heavily damaged buildings that have a risk of collapse will be demolished in line with relevant laws as they pose a threat to life,” it added, asking residents to vacate their houses immediately.
While some locals welcome the renewal, others filed petitions with the governorate, rejecting the call to leave their homes. Residents of Cizre cite uncertainties over their temporary residencies as a primary concern, in addition to the lack of transparency with regards to the outcome of the renewal project.
“We need to live in these damaged houses because there are no houses for rent in Cizre. If we vacate our homes, where will we stay?” some asked, whereas others questioned how long the reconstruction period would last.
An attorney from Şırnak’s bar association, Serkan Öskan, said a number of citizens appealed to law out of fear of another “unjust treatment,” and claimed the demolishing of damaged buildings without initially preparing a plan regarding their reconstruction was “unlawful.”
“Nobody knows about the plans of the buildings which will replace the demolished ones. Hence, there is a chaotic situation in place. People need to be informed about this [urban transformation] project,” Öskan said.
Cizre was under curfew for 78 days between Dec.14, 2015 and March 2, and thousands of buildings sustained severe damage due to heavy clashes between security authorities and PKK militants.
A damage assessment commission from the urban planning ministry designated that a total of 2,700 buildings were seriously damaged, especially in the district’s Cudi, Nur and Yafes neighborhoods.