The environmental impact assessment for the controversial Kanal Istanbul project has been approved by Ministry of Environment and Urbanization despite nationwide protests. The ministry had approved and published the report on December 23 . The ten-day period of objection ended on January 2, with thousands of citizens submitting objections to the planned artificial waterway that would connect the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. 

Beside its destructive effects on the local flora and fauna and the possibility of changing local wind drafts to exacerbate the climate crisis,  the project has caused a public outcry for its consequences in a potential earthquake as well.  Geologist and earthquake expert Professor Naci Görür had warned that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s “dream project” controversial “crazy” Kanal Istanbul project will exacerbate the damage that the city is likely to face regarding an expected earthquake that is believed to occur within the next several decades.

Based on the applications submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization and İstanbul Directorate of Environment and Urbanization as well as the recommendations offered by citizens, the Ministry might want the shortcomings of the project to be eliminated, additional works to be undertaken or the Board of Inspection and Survey to convene again.

Canal (Kanal) İstanbul project (Source: Bianet)

President and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a statement in 2011, when he was still the Prime Minister. In his speech, he mentioned “a new İstanbul” objective. Presented as a “crazy project”, the plan referred to ‘Canal İstanbul’ for the first time.

What is in the ‘crazy project’?

The basic information as to the project was shared with the public at a press conference in Haliç Congress Center in 2011.

The plan foresaw an artificial sea-level waterway that would connect the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. Accordingly, the project was extending from the region known as old stone pits on Black Sea shores in the north to Sarıyer in the east and Karaburun in the west. While the residences in Sarıyer center, Kemerburgaz, Göktürk and Arnavutköy have been excluded from the project, the damaged parts of the forest along the forest boundary have been included in the project. Sarıyer region, which is a historical protected area, marked the eastern border of the project.

The work area was determined as 33 thousand 500 hectares and located at the borders of Arnavutköy, Eyüp and Sarıyer districts. There were 21 villages with a population of 41 thousand 749 people within the designated work area.

The most important aspect of the project was the integration of transportation. The construction of 3rd Bosphorus bridge foreseen by the project has been completed. Minister Arslan stated that they would start the construction work this year.

Region opened to unearned income with bag bill

In May 2016, 32 articles of 20 laws were amended. An additional article added to the Pasture Law has paved the way for the region’s zoning for construction.

With another amendment introduced to the law, it has been understood that the access roads to the Canal İstanbul will be toll roads.

Ahmet Arslan, the then Minister of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications, announced the route of the project in 2018. He said that the canal would form an artificial waterway from the Black Sea to Marmara Sea, covering 45 kilometers from Küçükçekmece Lake through Küçükçekmece-Sazlıdere-Durusu corridor.