Disputed ODTÜ plan to be approved with changes soon

Disputed ODTÜ plan to be approved with changes soon

ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
Disputed ODTÜ plan to be approved with changes soon

Ankara police intevene at the protesters with watern cannons and rubber bullets while the protesters throwing fireworks at the police in this file photo. A controversial road project crossing ODTÜ’s campus has sparked protests in the city.

Turkey’s Environment and Urbanization Ministry will approve the project related to a disputed road passing through the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) campus within one or two days, including the changes requested by the university, Environment and Urbanization Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar has said.

The renewed settlement plan that comprises the university campus and its leafy areas will be approved in the way the ODTÜ rectorship has proposed, Bayraktar said on Sept. 18.

The road project leading to the destruction of around 3,000 trees has sparked protests that have intensified since Sept. 6. The police’s repeated interventions into protests with water cannons and tear gas stirred supporting protests across the country over the past few weeks.

The project had foreseen the construction of two roads on ODTÜ land. One of those roads, the smaller one, will be still go ahead, while the second will be replaced by a tunnel to minimize the damage to nature, Minister Bayraktar said.

The university has always been against the second road construction project and it was the university management that proposed the alternative tunnel project.

ODTÜ rectorship’s tunnel request approved

Bayraktar said the rectorship’s tunnel project proposal would be accepted. “In the plan a line looks like it is dividing the ODTÜ campus into two, but we’re replacing it with a tunnel in accordance with the rectorship’s request. The passage will go underground. This won’t distort the campus in anyway and won’t hurt most trees’ texture,” he said, adding that the displaced trees will be replanted elsewhere.

He also claimed that the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality, which has become the target of harsh criticism over its stance in the row, had made a “great sacrifice,” as the project would cost 100 million Turkish Liras.

The Ankara Municipality’s road project had caused huge indignation, leading the students take action. Protesters opposing the construction of the road project connecting Anadolu Boulevard with Konya Highway have staged protests in the campus as well as across the city.

ODTÜ’s leafy campus is one of the greenest areas of Ankara and has become an oasis of trees in recent years, after a construction boom in the surrounding area that also increased the traffic volume.

Ankara Metropolitan Municipality officials told Anadolu Agency on Aug. 26 that the construction would begin after the approval of the ministry, and that the plan dated back to the term of former mayor Murat Karayalçın who was in office through 1989-1993.

The same anonymous municipal officials, stated that the number of trees to be “carried” amounted to 250-300, as opposed to protesters’ claims deeming it as high as thousands. “There are 250-300 trees in the area. These trees can be carried to another place the ODTÜ wants or places needed in the city,” they said. “When this road is complete, it will significantly contribute to easing the traffic,” they added.