ODTÜ worries municipality may demand more land

ODTÜ worries municipality may demand more land

ODTÜ worries municipality may demand more land

The Ankara Municipality cut down around 3,000 trees in the ODTÜ campus in a midnight raid on Oct 18, as part of a highly controversial road development plan. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) rector has said that he fears the Ankara Municipality may demand more university land, adding they are not opposed to the road building in principle, but rather in timing.

“We are worried that the [Ankara] mayor may demand different land from the university, because he stated he will get 40 percent of ODTÜ lands and the lake in his previous remarks,” ODTÜ Rector Ahmet Acar said on Oct. 23.

Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek previously requested an inter-urban road to be constructed through the ODTÜ campus and Eymir Lake, land which is owned by the university.

The municipality cut around 3,000 trees in the ODTÜ campus in a midnight raid on Oct. 18 as part of the highly controversial road development plan, which has drawn condemnation from the university management as well as the public.

Not road, but ‘fait accompli’ objected

Acar said the university primarily objected to the way the Ankara Municipality kicked-off the project, rather than the project itself. Municipality construction workers and machines broke into the campus at midnight during the fourth day of the Eid al-Ahda holiday without informing the university.

Echoing a previous statement released by the university right after the municipality first broke into the campus, Acar said they were reacting to municipality’s “fait accompli” of not waiting for the legal process to end.

The university administration had said it found the municipality’s way of handling the project illegal and had vowed to take legal action against the move, which it described as “not well intentioned.”

The highway project, which was renewed after the wide-scale protests erupted across Turkey in the early days of September, foresees building a new road that passes through the ODTÜ campus in order to connect two major avenues in Ankara - the Anadolu Boulevard and the Konya Highway.

Another road that was to bring the destruction of a much wider leafy area of the ODTÜ campus has been decided to be replaced with a tunnel that will pass under the campus, in line with the university’s proposal, sent to the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently said his government would even "demolish a mosque to build a road ... because roads are civilization."