‘Crazy’ canal project remains a mystery

‘Crazy’ canal project remains a mystery

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Crazy’ canal project remains a mystery

The ‘crazy’ Istanbul canal project is expected to be completed by 2023, costing more than $10 million. AA photo

Almost nine months have passed since the prime minister’s announcement of Istanbul’s “crazy” canal project, and officials have started surveying land at proposed sites. While real estate developers also said land prices in the planned area have increased tremendously, others oppose the project for various reasons.

“We started surveying the land for the construction of the canal and we are working on the details,” an official from Istanbul Municipality told the Hürriyet Daily News recently, adding that the canal would be constructed in the northwestern part of Istanbul, near Terkos Lake.

Real estate agents, however, said the location was already chosen. “We are almost sure the location will be around Değirmenköy since the prices in that region have gone up 200 percent in the past year,” Reka Balkan, a member from the real estate agencies’ chamber, told the Daily News.
Balkan said they received a number of phone calls everyday asking for the land prices in the area.

Man-made canal

The Istanbul Canal Project (also known as the “Crazy Project”), aims to connect the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea via a man-made canal while also eliminating around $1.4 billion in annual costs accrued by ships waiting to pass through the congested Bosphorus Strait.

,The project became a strong symbol of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s 2011 elections campaign, yet since then there has been little activity in its development.

Others said realizing the project would have more negative outcomes than its benefits. “There is no scientific study behind this project and pursuing it will be disastrous to the Black Sea’s ecosystem,” Cemal Saydam, a professor from Ankara’s Hacettepe University Environmental Engineering Department, told the Daily News.

Saydam said the Istanbul Canal project would be similar to turning a second tap on from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean and it would diminish the amount of oxygen in both the Black and Marmara seas.
Meanwhile, others oppose the project for different reasons. “The northwestern part of Istanbul is the only green zone left,” said Tayfun Kahraman, head of the Istanbul’s Chamber of City Planners. “Both the canal project and the new metropolis around it will leave no habitat to the city.”

The project also raised international reactions. Last year, Russian Ambassador to Turkey Vladimir Ivanovsky told the Daily News they were most concerned with the international legal aspect of the project, since the stance of Turkey, Russia is to preserve the Montreux Treaty, which guarantees the free passage of civilian vessels through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits in peacetime.

While the feasibility of the project is yet to be announced, construction business owners still seem to be one of its major supporters. “We are 100 percent in support of the project,” said Alaattin Çakır from the Construction Engineers’ Association. “It will take Turkey’s growing economy even further.”