Turkey’s METU university halts construction project amid environmental protest

A leading university in the Turkish capital of Ankara has shelved plans for the construction of a dormitory 56 days into a protest led by students against the cutting down of acres of forest to make way for the structure.

Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (METU) will reconsider plans to build the dormitory in a forested area around campus which spans approximately 9 acres, independent news site Diken reported on Wednesday.

A months-long standoff between environmental protesters and workers and police attempting to cut down acres of forest to begin construction of a dormitory for the university was interrupted on Monday, when the mayor of Ankara intervened. 

The mayor of Ankara’s central Çankaya district has said the area allotted for the construction of the dorm has not yet been zoned for construction, and therefore neither permission to excavate nor licence to build have been obtained.

Ankara police earlier this week used tear gas on students who set up tents in the area to protest plans for the structure, before forcefully removing them from the area to cut down trees.

A lawmakers with Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), including Gamze Taşcıer, met the rector of METU,  Mustafa Verşan Kök on Monday. Taşçıer later verified that folllowing the meeting no further trees had been removed.