Turkish army’s green areas may face risk of settlement
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
This file photo shows a greenspace in central Istanbul neighborhood Ulus. ‘These land plots are needed for new buildings, be it for housing projects or for new buildings for state agencies,’ Deputy Undersecretary of the Environment and Urban Planning Mücahit Demirtaş says. At the end of May big protests across the country were held to save a green area in Taksim Square. DAILY NEWS photoThe Turkish Defense Ministry has announced that military barracks in urban centers will be vacated soon as the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry said it wants to buy green spaces that will be left from military zones being moved out of urban centers according to a report by daily Zaman.
However civil society has reacted against the last green zones in Istanbul’s city center being sold to companies.
The Chamber of City Planners (ŞPO) and the Chamber of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB) have both expressed concern that if these properties are bought by the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry, the ministry will eventually issue zoning permits for these areas. The chambers have said these last green spaces should be turned into parks, the daily claimed.
“Zoning permits for military areas are tantamount to clogging the last remaining veins of the city. Many military land plots have been transferred to the Housing Development Administration [TOKİ] and in those regions, contractors over time were given privileges resulting in more concrete than ever. These areas should absolutely remain as public property and as green areas,” Tayfun Kahraman, head of the Istanbul branch of the Chamber of City Planners was quoted as saying.
“It would be a lie to say that there would be no zoning plans allowed in these areas,” Deputy Undersecretary of the Environment and Urban Planning Mücahit Demirtaş said. “These land plots are needed for new buildings, be it for housing projects or for new buildings for state agencies.”
Environmentalist group warns
The official figures show that the total area with military and security zone status is 21,410 hectares, while Istanbul is built on 537,917 hectares.
When these lands are vacated, they will be transferred to the Treasury, the daily said.
“There are projects to issue zoning permits for the military areas inside urban centers. Parliament is considering passing a bill to make this possible. If this happens, major cities will lose their last remaining green spaces,” the head of the Chamber of Architects, Eyüp Muhçu, was quoted as saying.
“Military areas should stay as public property and municipal buildings should not be allowed. These should be saved as green spaces where city dwellers can breathe,” Zafer Murat Çetintaş of the environmentalist group Nature Warriors said.