Experts warn of risks from growing population density in Istanbul
The debates on the sustainability of urban life in Istanbul became headlines again following the announcement of the population data for 2021 by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK).
The latest official figures show that the population of the Turkish metropolis increased by some 378,000 people compared to the previous year, reaching 15.8 million people.
Experts express their concerns as the number of people per square kilometer in the province, where 18.71 percent of the country’s population resides, has reached 3,049.
Pointing out that serious chaos can occur in the event of a possible natural disaster, some experts argue the population should be around 8 million for the city to be livable.
“Millions of people will take to the roads after the expected big earthquake,” geophysicist Şerif Barış said, noting that it would not be possible to carry out any search and rescue work in a city with such a large population in case of a traffic jam.
“This city can no longer take this population,” he noted, stressing the need to implement plans that will gradually reduce the population in Istanbul.
Tayfun Kahraman, who is responsible for the coordination of urban planning plans and projects in the Istanbul Municipality, also stated that the dense population in the city should definitely be brought under control by reverse migration.
“New investment plans should now be based in Anatolia, not Istanbul. You will not see 3,049 people per square kilometer in any country in Europe,” Kahraman said, expressing that such problems are seen only in underdeveloped countries.
Mikdat Kadıoğlu, an academic from Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ), said that the population of Istanbul is now well above the limit values and that a very dense population lives in a small area.
“Although the official figures are announced as 16 million, the population of the city has exceeded 20 million. Neither land, air, nor water can suffice for such a population. Istanbul is heading towards collapse,” Kadıoğlu said.
Stating that it is impossible to eliminate the troubles experienced without reverse migration, the expert also underlined that great chaos and turmoil might arise in the city after a possible major disaster.
“It is predicted that 50,000 buildings will get destroyed after the expected big earthquake. I don’t even want to think about the chaotic situation that will arise following the disaster,” Kadıoğlu said.