Duvar English

Istanbul politicians have been leading a heated debate over the municipality’s removal of the “vertical garden” project across the city, which main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said cost more than 90 million liras in the past decade.

Installed by the former Justice and Development Party (AKP) municipal administration in 2010, the vertical garden projects were designed as sound and emission barriers along the metropolitan city’s highways.

The current administration under Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu cut the project out of the municipal budget on the grounds that presented “limited ecological benefits, but large financial costs.”

AKP deputy Özlem Erol asked Mayor İmamoğlu whether they’d consulted with the public before taking the gardens down, and what difference it made to cut a budget item that cost each Istanbulite 1 lira annually.

Responding to Erol’s question, the municipal administration noted that the cost of the vertical gardens in the past decade they’ve been in place is the equivalent of 180 million liras in today’s rates, and that this resource could be used to create one million square-meters of green space.

Istanbul Municipality replaced some of the vertical gardens with graffiti, calling the project “Talking Walls.”

“We are turning vertical gardens, 60 million liras to produce and an annual 12 million for maintenance, into artists’ canvas at no cost” reads a tweet by Istanbul Municipality.

Islamist Felicity Party (Saadet) Istanbul Chairman Dr. Abdullah Sevim said that the city’s real need wasn’t gardens, but nature, meaning vast green spaces that can be easily accessed by residents.

The chairman added that municipal funds reserved for parks and gardens should be repurposed for new natural areas.