Bartering forests away

Bartering forests away

The existing airports are not sufficient for Istanbul. However, nobody has even discussed how Atatürk Airport or Sabiha Gökçen Airport could be used more efficiently, or which part of the city was more suitable for a third airport. Far from it! As part of the prime minister’s “crazy project,” a location was selected from the map: A 63 million square meter forest area!

All kinds of preparations are currently ongoing to ease the path for this project. The Environment and City Planning Ministry has somehow issued a regulation that would exempt the third bridge from the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The third airport for Istanbul is not yet exempt from EIA. Still, even if it were, it wouldn’t matter; the government changes the laws and regulations however it wants.

The Environment and Concrete Ministry

International treaties, environmental devastation, the millions of trees that have to be cut, the birds, clean air, the climate change threat… All of these concepts are in contradiction with the existence of the Environment Ministry, against its mission.

Last week, the EIA report submitted to the ministry by the Ak-tel Company regarding the third bridge over the Bosphorus was released. According to this report, here is the situation:

- In the event that the airport is built, at least 657,000 trees will be cut “out of necessity.”

- 1,855,391 trees “may be transported.”

- This is because 80 percent of the project is in forested area…

The report also said the local flora and fauna would disappear.

Well, they said that area was a mining area, didn’t they? The region had no forest characteristic, didn’t they say? Don’t worry, the forest has been being cut down piece by piece for months, so when the time comes the area will surely not have any forest characteristics left.

Drinking water? Never mind!

The area where the airport is going to be built will be nationalized. In other words, it will be open to development profits. Those creeks that feed the Terkos Lake that provides drinking water to Istanbul will dry up. There will also be some risk of landslides, but deal with it. The eco-systems of the forest and water will irrevocably be ruined.

The airport, with its annual 150 million passenger capacity, will indeed cause very intense vehicle traffic, about 100,000 vehicles per day.

Carbon emission calculations have not been done. Well dears, with a project such as this one that would “wing” Istanbul, there is no need to mention climate change, is there?

I can hear those who will say, “Why do you occupy us with unnecessary things such as birds, migration, greenery, and trees? Look, we are building a feat of engineering where four planes will be able to land and take off simultaneously. And still they don’t like it!”

My question to those who approve and are part of these projects that will make the city unlivable: Acting without conscience, so shortsightedly, so ignorantly will be good for what, except for lining one’s pockets?

Project to starve birds

Ninety percent of the project area consists of natural areas such as forests, lakes and meadows. Only one seventh, in other words only 1,180 hectares, is made up of mining areas. The rest is forests, lakes, and meadows.

- The transportation corridor of the third bridge will cut the forested area in half in the direction of north-south. The Terkos-Haliç environmental corridor is in this area.

- The total number of trees in the area is 2,513,341. Most of them are said to be “transported.” Well, in that case who will transport the eco-system? - The phrase “fight against birds” is included in the project. Bravo! Because it is a significant migration region, to prevent the birds from hitting the planes, it is suggested that food and water sources of animals be cleared away. In other words, let the birds starve to death! You have already removed their habitat.

- What are all these for? For a project whose economic life is calculated at 100 years!

Mehveş Evin is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on April 18. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.