Government plans to seize Istanbul municipality's authority over Bosporus

A new draft law prepared by Turkey’s Ministry of Urbanisation and Environment seeks to transfer Istanbul municipal authority over development plans on the Bosporus strait to a new government department, Sözcü newspaper reported on Wednesday. 

According to the draft law, the Undersecretariat of the Bosphorus and two other new boards will take over jurisdiction to make decisions on development projects in districts along Istanbul’s waterway. 

The undersecretariat will be established under the ministry, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will have the power to appoint the members of two boards that will oversee cultural and natural assets in these areas, Sözcü said. 

The draft law raised concerns that the move of the government would increase the number of construction projects in Istanbul’s most valuable lands and would allow new building on vacant plots, Sözcü said. The initiative is expected to attract foreign investors, it said. 

Ekrem İmamoğlu, the mayor of Istanbul, told Euronews Turkish that the municipality would appeal against the new law. 

“We want to obtain everything that legally belongs to Istanbul through legal means. In that regard we will use the law on behalf of the people of Istanbul to the very end,” İmamoğlu said in Strasbourg at the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities on Wednesday. 

İmamoğlu, a mayor for the main opposition Republican People’s Party, won power in Turkey’s largest city and financial powerhouse in what was seen as a major blow to Erdoğan’s ruling party at local elections this year. 

Coastal areas in Istanbul contain the most financially lucrative real estate in the city.