Academics assigned as Kanal Istanbul project experts after not signing petition against Erdoğan’s decree

An Istanbul court has assigned three academics of İTÜ’s Urban and Regional Planning Department to the panel of experts formed to give an opinion about the Kanal Istanbul project's environmental consequences after they did not sign their department’s declaration warning the government against rapid construction in the earthquake zone.  

Duvar English

Academics who have not signed a university declaration against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decree on post-quake construction have been assigned to the panel of experts for the Kanal Istanbul project, online news outlet Diken reported on April 24.

Istanbul Technical University’s (İTÜ) Urban and Regional Planning Department in March released an open declaration in criticism of a Feb. 24-dated presidential decree opening the earthquake zone to rapid construction. Afterwards, the rectorate launched an investigation against the department head and dismissed her from duty.
Three academics of the department, however, were awarded for not putting their signatures on the written declaration. And it bas turned out that these three academics on April 12 became part of an 11-member panel of experts whom a court assigned to look into the controversial Kanal Istanbul project.

As part of a lawsuit filed at the court against the "Positive Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIA)" given for the Kanal Istanbul project, a panel of experts will examine the area of the planned project and pen a report about its environmental consequences.

While the EIA report was prepared by the Environment and Urbanization Ministry, the plaintiffs have been requesting that the EIA report be cancelled.

The government says Kanal Istanbul, a canal project which aims to connect the Black Sea north of Istanbul to the Marmara Sea to the south, will ease shipping traffic on the Bosphorus Strait, one of the world's busiest maritime passages, and prevent accidents similar to that this week on the Suez Canal, where work is continuing to refloat a giant container ship blocking the channel.

But like other major infrastructure projects undertaken during Erdoğan's 21-year rule, the canal has drawn criticism from those who say it will wreak environmental havoc and pollute freshwater resources around the city of 18 million people.