Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu has admitted that the government's controversial Kanal Istanbul project will destroy the city's freshwater reservoirs.
“With two new dams that we will build, we will bring in Istanbul much more of the water supplies than we will have lost here [with the Kanal Istanbul project],” Karaismailoğlu said during a program aired on TRT Haber on May 7.
“The CHP [main opposition Republican People's Party], which has introduced Istanbul to water shortage and turned it into a desert, is trying to give us a lesson with regards to the water issue. It is not their place to tell this to the [Justice and Development Party] AKP which brought the city a water supply that runs 24 hours, that built dams,” he said.
The Kanal Istanbul project 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 traffic on the Bosphorus Strait and prevent accidents, but critics have said it will wreak environmental havoc and pollute freshwater resources. Turkey approved development plans for the project in March.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Turkey will push on with the plan "whether you like it or not," referring to criticism from opposition parties and other opponents, and added the canal would be a "new windpipe" for the region.
Erdoğan said that the project's environmental impact assessment report was completed with the participation of not just the public, but also scientists, even though the overwhelming consensus among the public was that the project would be practically devastating for the city.