Istanbul canal’s opponents outnumber supporters - poll

A majority of people oppose government plans to build a massive manmade waterway through Istanbul, Diken reported on Wednesday.

Some 45.4 percent of people oppose the project, while 38.5 percent support the construction of the canal, according to a March survey by MetroPoll, a leading Turkish polling firm.

Announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2011, the planned 45-kilometre waterway linking the Marmara and Black Seas, running parallel to the Bosphorus, has been met with strong opposition.

Professional organisations, NGOs and the opposition mayor of Istanbul maintain that the canal poses a severe earthquake risk, will damage the megacity’s last forest areas by encouraging development, and harm marine life in the Marmara Sea.

On April 7, Erdoğan, announced work would soon begin on the project, adding the government would push forward despite criticisms.

All preparations have been completed for the project, whose ground breaking ceremony will be held in the summer, Cumhuriyet newspaper cited Erdoğan as saying.

Since 1936, the Bosporus Straits through Istanbul have been governed by the Montreux Convention, which regulates the passage of civilian and naval vessels both in peace and wartime.

Access provided by a new canal could bring the Montreux Convention into question amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea region.