Some Questions and Their Short Answers

Canals are artificially created structures in which water is transported from one place to another through the beds dug into the ground.

The purpose of creating canals is usually for agricultural irrigation and transportation. From the first examples that emerged in Mesopotamia in 4000 B.C it is seen that the most agricultural irrigation canals in the world have been created. Apart from this, the large transportation canals built because they connect the ocean and the open seas save distance and time.

The artificial canals provide shorter and faster route for maritime transportation, making them of great importance for economy. The Panama Canal, for example, saves an average of 13,000 kilometers, as it allows cruise ships to cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans without having to travel across the South American continent. Similarly, the Suez Canal eliminates the obligation to travel around Africa, allowing fast and low costs for sea transportation between Asia and Europe. The project of opening a channel parallel to the Bosphorus Strait offers no advantage in this sense. Canal Istanbul is completely an unreasonable project because suggesting a second passageway between the two seas, which are already connected by the strait, does not offer a distance advantage, and will increase the crossing costs of passing ships.

The Istanbul Canal Project that proposes a 45-kilometers long artificial waterway linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara parallel to the Bosphorus Strait, and new settlements with a population of 2 million called “Yenişehir (The New City)” on both sides of the canal. Since it is the main goal not to create a waterway, but to build a new city with stream views to the upper-income group, it seems that even those who prepared the project on the technical details of the canal did not work hard enough.

The construction of the canal mainly justified on the increase on the passing of ships and accidents. However, between 2006 and 2020, the annual number of ships passing through the Bosphorus is decreased by 30 percent and there have been no tragic accidents in the Bosphorus in the last 25 years. Traffic and accident reduction trends continue. The Ministry’s assumptions of accident and transit forecasts for 2050 are incorrect and ignore global trends. Existing ship traffic is within the thresholds that the strait can handle and continues without disruption.

The width (max 3,600 meters) and depth (110 meters) values of the Bosphorus Strait are much larger than the recommended width (max 400 meters) and depth (21 meter) for Istanbul Canal. In addition, the current flow speed of the Bosphorus strait is slower than the one that will occur in the Canal. This makes the Bosphorus Strait preferable for cruise safety for ships.

No, the Panama Canal saves 12,000 kilometers and the Suez Canal saves 5,000 miles, while The Canal Istanbul extends the passage from the Black Sea to the Marmara by 30 kilometers. That is, Canal Istanbul is a commercially irrational waterway. In addition, since ships cannot be forced to cross the Canal Istanbul, it seems likely that zero ships will pass through the year after they are built.

Istanbul Canal project is not just a water canal project as it is pointed out in any way. The transit routes allocated to the transportation of such dangerous freight transport vehicles are built away from the settlements in order to reduce the risks or measures are taken to prevent the formation of settlement tissues around these channels later. However, it is clear from the way the project has been presented since the day it was raised that the canal being considered for Istanbul will have no function other than being a view to the new zoning areas with a population of 2 million that is intended to be built on both sides of the waterway. Istanbul Canal project is a large-scale real estate project prepared to be allocated to the upper-income group.

At least 1.5 million new residents will be included in the existing city population in the new settlements announced as part of the canal initiative. In 2009, the Environmental Plan, approved by the previous governance and announced as “Istanbul’s Constitution” after 4 years of extensive work, stated that the maximum population that Istanbul could remove was 16 million, above which a population would push the city’s natural thresholds. Now, the population of Istanbul has reached this number and we are also witnessing the breach of the Environmental Plan decision to prevent settlement in the north of Istanbul.

“60 percent of the area within the boundaries of the Canal and Yenişehir project is private property, 5 percent is forest, 7 percent is private and public, and 29 percent is public land. Since 2011, 25,000 deeds have changed hands, amounting to approximately 30 million m². It is understood that the three largest companies owning property in the project area are owned by Arab investors and that since 2011, the companies have increased their properties by 7 times.

Since the canal project was announced, no arrangements have been made by the central government regarding land sales, even though it has the tools in this regard. Therefore, the canal initiative appears to have caused huge field speculation since 2011. Property owners could be questioned through the Land Registry and Cadastral Sharing System until news about land buyers in January 2020. When extremely intricate relationships were exposed, even from an unforeseen deficit, access to the land registry was quickly restricted.

Although the plan report mentioned that highway bridges would be built to cross the canal, the technical details and construction costs of these bridges were never mentioned. In addition, there is no information about the locations and numbers of pedestrian and service bridges mentioned in the Environmental Plan revision report but not processed into the 1:5,000 and 1:1,000 scale development plans, 7 road lines, 4 railway lines, 2 metro lines (i.e. 13 bridges or tunnels in total and an indeterminate number of ecological bridges and cable cars) from a careful reading of the Environmental Plan report; and it turns out that infrastructure lines such as 9 power transmission lines, 7 natural gas, 1 emergency fuel line (NATO), 12 water-wastewater lines, fiber and telecommunication lines, etc. must be established. With these additions with hidden cost items, the transportation infrastructure will require financing far beyond the cost calculations in circulation. It is not possible to draw up a clear cost account unless there is precise information about the technical details, including routes.

Minister of Transportation Adil Karaismailoglu declared that the expected annual earnings from Istanbul Canal would be $700 million, according to the projection that ship traffic would increase. Therefore, not only will it bring income, but it will take at least 40 years for this project to repay itself.

First of all, in political science, the “state” is depicted as the crystallized form of the mind. However, the most important feature that distinguishes this mind from the ordinary human mind is that it always puts the interest of citizens at the center when interpreting events. Therefore, in our tradition, the government/state is distinguished. The state, like governments, represents the permanent, not the temporary one. But we are faced with a practice that destroys this tradition. By running the economy, health, education, national security, etc. in the most effective way, we see that the state mind, which we expect to use for the happiness of the citizens, has been disabled and a completely different mind that is the patron of 5 companies has replaced it. Although this intention used to be hidden by different eye-popping tactics, now a lack of a state mind has become public knowledge due to the huge problems produced by this mind. In this respect, it is very clear that a mind that is willing to destroy the Marmara Region, including Istanbul, with the aim of benefiting a very small minority, and put a terrible debt burden on the citizens, is not state-minded. This is not a government project, but a REAL ESTATE PROPERTY PROJECT and it is a very poorly project.

When global trends are closely monitored, it will be seen that ship logistics is substituted in some specific areas by other means of transmission. In particular, we are in a period where fuel and natural gas pipelines offer a more effective alternative to ship transportation in costs per unit. This, together with widespread international commitments to reduce fossil fuel use, makes it clear that it would be useful to review basic assumptions before investment decisions.

It has been stated by different sources that no opinion was taken from the Turkish General Staff during the project work. In this respect, it is evaluated that the project will create weaknesses in the field of national security. Due to the large-scale change that the Canal will create in the region geography, there will probably be an additional cost of $7-8 billion in the next decade with radical changes to the combat preparation, force structure and defense plans of Istanbul, Thrace Region and South Marmara, which are in the area of responsibility of the 1st Army Commandership. Moreover, after this new structure, the 9 million Istanbul residents who will have to live on an island where the only connection to the mainland is provided through bridges cannot be defended more effectively than before in a possible war.

Such an intervention in the northern forests of Istanbul would seriously endanger the city’s natural resources and sustainability. And people won’t be the only victims of the high-density construction pressure in the region. Over time, vital ecosystems in the region will also face the threat of extinction. It is understood that 23 million m2 of forest area will be destroyed. The trees to be cut down already produce 69 million kg of oxygen, which 1.2 million people breathe in one year. In addition, the allocation of forests to different uses with special permissions will have negative effects on the future of the city. It is also foreseen that urban heat islands that will occur as a result of deforestation and settlement pressure will have negative effects on the climate on a global scale.

There is no point in any investigation or discussion about the earthquake, which does not center on the future of 16 million Istanbul residents. Even if there is talk of a possibility that canal excavations could trigger an earthquake, this has never been the main argument of those who oppose the canal project. As a result of the studies, it was determined that the existing building stock of 1.3 million in Istanbul will become unusable after the earthquake and 45,000 buildings will be destroyed, but Istanbul has no more urgent agenda than to renovate this building stock. While this fact is obvious, the announcement that a new city will be built by digging a canal on an area that has been repeatedly measured with a high risk of liquefaction on the ground will turn the expected disaster in terms of loss of life and property into a disaster. Moreover, the canal that will tear Istanbul apart will also make it difficult to respond after the disaster, making it difficult to reach the injured and evacuate the region. Infrastructure lines such as water, wastewater, natural gas, electricity, oil, etc., which will be maintained through bridges or tunnels under the canal, will be more fragile; any outage is expected to take too long. In addition, there is a high probability that the Canal will be destroyed and blocked by landslides after the earthquake. The damage that Istanbul, the engine of the Turkish economy, will suffer after such a disaster will have a profound impact on the whole country.

It is clearly stated in the EIA report, that this project will eliminate the Sazlıdere Dam. This will be the first publicly owned demolition of a functioning Barrage in the history of the world. Part of Lake Terkos, which meets 29 percent of Istanbul’s drinking water needs along with the Sazlıdere Dam, will be deliberately dried, and if the rest is not salted with sea water that will flow through the canal — which experts say is inevitable — the earth, ship, will be contaminated in a way that cannot be used as drinking water because it will be directly affected by air traffic. In other words, we are talking about drying, salting, and polluting the clean drinking water of Istanbul residents.

The hydrodynamic numerical modeling report prepared by Artelia for the EIA report was examined by expert scientists and as a result, many inconsistencies and contradictions were identified in this report. If the project is implemented by accepting data without repeating the measurements based on this report in a way that meets scientific standards, the future of the Marmara Region will be in jeopardy. Istanbul’s entire sewerage system will go bankrupt, the existing dirty Black Sea water will completely drown the Marmara, which already has low oxygen levels, the smell of heavy rotten eggs will make Istanbul residents unable to open the window of their homes in the summer heat, new generations will not know the taste of fish, the marine ecosystem will collapse.

The assurance that the scientific method provides to the researcher is that he knows that no matter what the findings of a study he conducted in accordance with scientific criteria, it cannot be personally associated with him in any way. In other words, in principle, any work that can be based is scientifically permissible. However, some of the vital assessments laid out in the EIA report have been repeatedly misrepresented by counterarguments. While scientists who stated that the project was not objectively based on comprehensive scrutiny could publicly defend their thesis with their clear identities, there was no explanation for these counterarguments from experts whose names we did not know. Experts who defended the project, who were invited to public workshops, avoided discussing their thesis openly with their colleagues. It is vital that these experts are responsible for history, only to make reasonable statements about the angle in which such a project can be done, which will have far greater consequences than affecting the personal career of the ancestor. Finally, after the work of a famous professor who was asked to report on the route for the project was not appreciated by ministry officials, he was forced to prepare a new report for the route indicated, and his statements that he was threatened openly and implicitly in the process were reported in the national media. In summary, there is no scientifically defensible aspect of the EIA report.

The Istanbul Canal project had a limited number of interlocutors from the beginning and 16 million Istanbul residents were never among them. For the first time in seven years after the initiative was made public, a public meeting was held without an effective announcement and with few attendances simply because it required procedure. A second organization in which the opinions of the public was taken was not carried out, and non-governmental organizations, universities and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality were completely excluded from the process.

It has been proven several time that the residents of Istanbul are against this project in all public opinion surveys conducted by independent research institutions at different times.

It is still not fully explained what to do with the earthmoving wastes that will be excavated during the canal excavation and the construction of the settlements. When the project was first raised, rumors that started with two islands in the Sea of Marmara are expressed today in the form of a 38×5 km filling area on the Black Sea coast. According to this situation, the eerie filling areas envisaged to be built on the Black Sea coast are not a goal for the Canal Istanbul Project, but a means by which 1.2 billion m³ of excavation and scanning material will be stored and as such it is clearly against the law.

İstanbul Canal is a real estate venture that, despite all rightful opposition, has not been able to get behind any popular power and has no basis other than a baseless persistence that it will be implemented. As can be clearly seen from the zoning plans prepared, an area of 70 million m² is allocated as a development residential area and $10 billion will be earned from the evaluation of the land to be acquired during expropriation alone; The two satellites around the canal are pronounced in open sources, where the real estate value of the city is expected to total $60 billion. İstanbul Canal a real estate venture that, despite all rightful opposition, has not been able to get behind any popular power and has no basis other than a baseless persistence that it will be implemented.

“We against to the project because; it is inadequacy of arguments generated over accidents and tolls, damages international conventions or violates contracts we are party to due to environmental concerns, imposes a huge debt burden ($65-80 billion) on taxpayers, aims to create capital contributions to a small minority, and is clearly contrary to the provisions of the spatial plan in force. We against to this project because; It will make the city uninhabitable by crossing the social and natural thresholds of Istanbul, displace hundreds of thousands of people, destroy existing agricultural lands, drinking water dams, forests, and pastures, have negative effects that will extend to the Mediterranean due to the pollution it will cause in the Marmara Sea, oppose the promised measures against the global climate disaster, increase the scale of the disaster with additional settlements and turn it into an island, it would disrupt potential disaster management by restricting logistics to an area of 9 million people.
We against to the spatial plans put forward by the canal initiative because it will damage the structures in natural and archaeological sites that are very important for the world cultural heritage, the air pollution caused by the earthmoving to be excavated and the fillings to be made to the Black Sea coast with this earthmoving, will destroy the habitats of aquatic creatures, paralyze traffic, disrupt infrastructure and limit access to urban services, and ignore local democracy and public participation.”

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