Turkey approves development plans for Kanal Istanbul
Turkey has approved the development plans for Kanal Istanbul despite widespread opposition to the project over environmental concerns. "We will rapidly take steps to enrich our country and sacred city with Kanal Istanbul," Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum said.
Duvar English - Reuters
Turkey has approved development plans for a huge canal on the edge of Istanbul, Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum said on March 27, advancing a project which has attracted criticism over its cost and environmental impact.
The step came a year after Turkey held its first tender for the reconstruction of two historic bridges in its largest city where the 45km (28 miles) Kanal Istanbul, championed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is set to be dug.
"We have approved the Kanal Istanbul Project development plans and put them out for public consultation. We will rapidly take steps to enrich our country and sacred city with Kanal Istanbul," Kurum wrote on Twitter.
The canal will connect the Black Sea north of Istanbul to the Marmara Sea to the south and is estimated to cost 75 billion lira ($9.2 billion).
The government says it 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 18-year rule, the canal has drawn criticism from those who say it will wreak environmental havoc and pollute freshwater resources around the city of 15 million people.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, from the main opposition Republican People's Party, is among the staunchest critics of the project. He has said spending resources on the canal while Turkey combats the coronavirus outbreak is "mind boggling."