Former AKP minister admits warning against Hatay Airport’s construction
Former Environment and Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu, who currently serves as the head of the parliament’s Earthquake Research Commission, has admitted that his ministry had warned against the construction of Hatay Airport at its current location. The airport’s only runway was completely destroyed and split into half in the major earthquakes of Feb. 6.
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Veysel Eroğlu has said that during his term as the Environment and Forestry Minister, he had warned against the construction of Hatay Airport at its current location.
The Hatay Airport was one of the structures greatly affected by the major earthquakes of Feb. 6, as its only runway was completely destroyed and split into half.
Eroğlu, who currently serves as the head of the parliament’s Earthquake Research Commission, on March 28 said that when he was serving as the minister, the General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSİ) had given a negative opinion with regards to the construction of Hatay Airport at its current location.
Eroğlu made the comments as the commission deputies were listening to executives of the Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry during a meeting.
“We (the ministry) had also indicated that the construction of an airport here was not appropriate. Let me explicitly express that. But a great pressure came from Antakya at that point, in the sense that ‘We don’t want the airport in the direction of İskenderun, we want it in this direction. Therefore, as a result of social pressure, an airport was built there,” Eroğlu was quoted as saying by the online news outlet T24.
During the meeting, the head of the General Directorate of State Airports Authority (DHMİ), Hüseyin Keskin, told the commission that all of the airports in the earthquake region were currently operating but that there were problems with regards to only Hatay Airport. Upon this comment, the commission head Eroğlu said that he was the Environment and Forestry Minister at the time of Hatay Airport’s construction and that his ministry had also asked for an opinion from DSİ with regards to the issue.
Eroğlu said that the DSİ had previously warned about the risk of the airport flooding with rainfall which is why some of the canals around the airport had been opened.
DHMİ general manager Keskin confirmed Eroğlu’s remarks, saying Hatay Airport should be “reanalyzed” all over again.
Erdoğan emphasized the importance of building airports at the right location from the start, saying mistakes lead to a “waste of resources.” In return, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Gökhan Zeybek called on the former minister to transfer to the opposition bloc, by saying “Let us have you on the opposition side, your remarks would be more powerful,” to which Erdoğan replied he was a “man of science” and was telling the truth as it is.