Duvar English 

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s Ministry of Environment and City Planning has moved to seize control of four Istanbul districts located near the Bosphorus strait, which command high real estate values. 

The move aims to take control of the districts away from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Ekrem İmamoğlu’s administration, via the establishment of the Bosphorus Ministry, the members of which will be determined by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

İmamoğlu reclaimed the Istanbul mayorship earlier this year after it had been under the control of Erdoğan or fellow members of his parties for the past 25 years. He narrowly won the first election in March of this year, the results of which were subsequently cancelled by the government and rescheduled for a June election, in which İmamoğlu increased his vote count significantly, thereby winning the office with a resounding victory. 

The ministry has prepared a bill containing 28 articles concerning the removal of the authority of the Greater Istanbul Municipality (İBB) from the relevant districts. In the event that the legislation is passed, the newly-founded Bosphorus Ministry would be established, which would consist of 160 civil servants and 50 workers, while the president of the ministry and its three deputy leaders would be appointed by Erdoğan. 

The legislation concerns potentially serious changes regarding areas alongside Istanbul’s picturesque and iconic Bosphorus strait. According to authorities, 60 percent of the buildings built near the Bosphorus in the relevant districts were illegally constructed. 

“According to the current regulations, if the illegal buildings near the Bosphorus were demolished, they would have to be replaced with green spaces. Regarding the new regulations, after the demolition of the illegal buildings, there would be permission granted for the construction of new buildings, which would achieve a legal status,” said a government official.