Water project refuels transformation row

Water project refuels transformation row

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Water project refuels transformation row

Reef and biological diversity in the Golden Horn is expected to increase because of the project, which will pump water from the Bosphorus and into Golden Horn area. Hürriyet photo

The connection of Istanbul’s Golden Horn (Haliç) to the Bosphorus via a four-kilometer long tunnel project has reignited a row over urban transformation between the municipality and residents around the Golden Horn.

Fatih district Mayor Mustafa Demir said the Golden Horn would be suitable for swimming within five years with this project. However, locals from Balat on the southern side of the Golden Horn, have said they fear possible relocation due to the urban transformation project.

“Locals have the right to have such fears, but 30 percent of buildings in that area are abandoned. They built their houses on the city walls, to such an extent that the city walls cannot even be seen from outside. We care intensely about the human factor in urban transformation projects,” Demir told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday in a phone interview.

Demir repeatedly said their plan was not to remove people from their homes, but to provide a better environment.

“Mutual understanding is crucial here. Those areas are not peaceful places. We want to transform their neighborhood into a peaceful area with their help.”

On the other hand, locals say the project was finished after an Istanbul court canceled an urban transformation project around the Golden Horn’s Balat area.

“We knew that this pipe project was finished before, but they kept it waiting until the Balat urban transformation project was brought to trial. When the court canceled their project, the aim to sell our possessions to rich people failed as well. Now they have revealed the project, as their advertising material renovating the Haliç for the rich is in vain,” Selahattin Güçlü, a Febayder (Fener Balat Ayvansaray) Association board member, told the Daily News yesterday.

A transformation project in Istanbul’s historical and predominantly Roma and Kurdish neighborhood of Balat was recently canceled by Istanbul’s Fifth Administrative Court on the grounds of “harming the cultural pattern in the region.” After a five-year struggle with the Fatih Municipality, the case was resolved in favor of the locals.

The Istanbul Water and Sewage Administration’s (İSKİ) project, which was kicked off three years ago, ended on July 10 and the water channel was turned on. With this project, the seawater coming from Cendere will reach the Golden Horn through Kağıthane Creek, providing circulation for the Golden Horn which already hosts many water sports like rowing and sailing. The Golden Horn is also one of Turkey’s few watercraft-landing areas.

. The official opening of the tunnel is expected to be held soon, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is reportedly scheduled to attend the opening ceremony.