ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
Quadruple the number of trees as those cut down in the forest of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) will be planted elsewhere, instead of the double that had been promised, Mayor Melih Gökçek claimed on Sept. 12.
The construction of a new road, set to cut through the forested ODTÜ campus, started on Sept. 9 after the university and the Ankara
Metropolitan Municipality signed a protocol the previous day upon an instruction from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Gökçek said almost 4,000 trees were removed with special construction vehicles in a midnight operation late on Sept. 9, but he pledged to plant twice as many trees as originally agreed to be planted as replacements in the ODTÜ campus.
“There are some bush groups and trees that have completed their lives, are fragile, and have few leaves. We had to cut down these trees as well. The total number of trees cut down is around 4,000. But I will not replant 8,000, I will plant between 15,000 and 16,000 trees elsewhere in the ODTÜ campus,” he said, claiming that all opposition to the plans was “ideological.”
The launch of the construction, slated to connect Bilkent City Hospital to the city center, came after the university and the Ankara
Metropolitan Municipality met on Sept. 8, with the Ankara
Governor’s Office acting as an intermediary, upon the instruction from Erdoğan.
The governor’s office released a statement, saying the “cut-and-cover” construction method would only be undertaken when necessary, claiming that the deforestation of the ODTÜ campus would be kept to a minimum.
“No less than twice the number of the trees and bushes to be transferred or removed as part of the project will be planted in other areaa,” the statement said.