Erdoğan’s Kanal İstanbul project to ‘suffocate’ city - column

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Kanal Istanbul project, a 45 km channel linking the Black and Marmara seas west of Istanbul, is signalling disaster for the city of İstanbul and its residents, wrote Çiğdem Toker in her column for secular Cumhuriyet daily.

The canal -  criticized by environmental scientists for its potentially significant contribution to damaging İstanbul’s air quality and altering the flow between the seas thereby tipping the area’s delicate ecological balance and wiping out species indigenous to the Marmara Sea - is  expected to cost around €12 billion and scheduled to open later this year.  

Erdoğan is angered by those who don’t look at the project the same way he does, Toker points out, noting that this project, which is of strategic significance for Turkey’s strongman, could be threatening lives.

Toker quotes opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) MP Gülizar Biçer Karaca who explains that through this project, tones of cubic meters of soil will be shifted in a city that is home to 20 million people, which will trigger the highly-feared earthquake in the metropolis.

“Let’s change our minds on this project which is going to do nothing but line the pockets of pro-government companies. Let’s protect our country, our resources and nature,’’ Karaca said, adding that the Sazlıdere dam, located on the path of the project will be destroyed while 107,000 hectares of forest land will be felled.

The 45 kilometer deep, 150 kilometer wide canal is set to produce extremely large amounts of excavation.‘’This is going to pollute the air of İstanbul and increase illnesses related to air pollution,’’ Toker wrote.

The Cumhuriyet columnist went on to share the findings of a Politeknik report which indicate that new ground problems are bound to surface with the project through landslides, corrosion and soil liquefaction.

Furthermore, the project parameters overlap with many present fault lines in İstanbul, Toker adds, and with the tsunami waves that could form in the event of an earthquake, the residents of the city will be facing yet another threat.