Route of contentious Kanal Istanbul project finalized

Route of contentious Kanal Istanbul project finalized

Route of contentious Kanal Istanbul project finalized

The route for an artificial canal bisecting Istanbul, once hailed as a “crazy project” by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has finally been determined, according to documents sent to the Environment and Urbanization Ministry by the Transport Ministry.

The 45-kilometer route will start from the Küçükçekmece Lake near the Marmara Sea in the southern part of the European side of the city. It will pass through the districts of Avcılar and Başakşehir before reaching the Black Sea in the Arnavutköy district north of the city, daily Habertürk reported on Dec. 6. 

The ministry has accepted an application prepared by Çınar Mühendislik, an engineering and consultancy company, demanding an environmental assessment report (ÇED), a document legally required for such urbanization projects. 

Then-Prime Minister Erdoğan had promised to realize the Kanal Istanbul project ahead of the 2011 general election, pledging to build a 45-kilometer-long, 400-meter-wide canal crossed by six bridges.

Six years on, Erdoğan stated in October that the groundbreaking process for the project will started either late this year or early in 2018.

“Opening a new canal parallel to the Bosphorus, which we call ‘Kanal Istanbul,’ is my dream. God willing, we will break its ground probably at the end of this year or in early 2018,” he said at the Turkey-Serbia Business Forum in the Serbian capital Belgrade.

The final route for the 60 billion-Turkish Lira ($15.6 billion) investment was selected after studies on five alternative routes. 

Seven kilometers of the route passes through Küçükçekmece, 3.1 kilometers goes through Avcılar, 6.5 kilometers goes through Başakşehir, and the major 28.6-kilometer part of the route goes through Arnavutköy. 

Environmental and urban campaigners have issued dire warnings about the project, amid fears of environmental degradation in the Black Sea and Marmara Sea as well as further land speculation in a rapidly expanding city. 
Officials say around 5,000 people will be employed to work during construction of Kanal Istanbul, which will offer 1,000 jobs once completed, Habertürk reported. 

The project will utilize the Sazlıdere dam on the route, which currently provides 25 days of Istanbul’s annual water needs. 

Meanwhile, three artificial islands off Istanbul are projected to be built with the billions of cubic meters of excavated land during construction of the canal. A container port will also be built at the Black Sea end of the water way, close to another ongoing megaproject: The third Istanbul airport. 

Among the justifications for the canal project given by officials is the hope that it will relieve shipping traffic, particularly oil tanker traffic, passing through the Bosphorus. Kanal Istanbul will have a designed capacity of 160 vessels a day and is scheduled to be completed by 2023 at a cost of $15 billion.