Over 60 pct of Istanbul residents opposed to gov't canal project - survey

Over 60 percent of Istanbul residents are opposed to the Istanbul Canal project, a $10 billion waterway designed to circumvent the Bosporus strait, according to a survey conducted by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB).

A total of 64.2 percent of those surveyed by the İBB said they were opposed to the project while 34.1 percent said they in favour of the canal, Diken news site cited the survey as finding.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan first announced the waterway project, estimated to stretch 45 to 50 km from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea, in 2011. While it was originally planned for 2023, construction has been delayed by feasibility studies and financing problems.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) says the project will reduce traffic on the busy Bosporus strait by providing a preferable trading route for international shipping companies.

But critics of the project say the AKP is risking irreversible ecological damage in an attempt to reinvigorate the stuttering construction sector and provide cash for its allies and clients.

When asked if the Istanbul Canal project would benefit Istanbul, 63.2 percent of those surveyed in the city that is home to some 15 million said “no.’’

Only 36.8 said they believed the canal would benefit the city.

When asked to name the greatest risks posed by the project to the city, respondents identified the risk of drought at 19 percent, followed by increased risk of earthquake at 18.9 percent and the destruction of historical artefacts at 17.4 percent.

A total of 15.3 percent said they did not believe the project would pose any risk to the megacity.

Istanbul’s opposition mayor Ekrem İmamoğu has been a vocal critic of the canal project, saying Ankara’s multi-billion-dollar bid to build the artificial waterway would be “an even greater disaster” with the world’s intensifying climate crisis.