It is a gigantic work that will change the maps. Turkey Construction work on the Istanbul Canal (Kanal Istanbul). A 45 kilometer long infrastructure that will artificially link Europe and Asia for the first time in history. It will open a new navigable route between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea. It is the canal that would make Istanbul an island.
Expensive and criticized
It is inspired by the Panama and Suez canals. The work will take 7 years, according to local media. The project is very controversial. There are many possible environmental and social consequences.
The canal will run in a south-northeast direction through the so-called “Küçükçekmece-Sazlıdere-Durusu corridor”. The Turkish government defends its project. In doing so, he assures that it will serve to facilitate shipping traffic through the Bosporus. It is one of the narrowest and busiest natural sea routes in the world.
The canal is being built at a cost of more than $ 8 billion. It will allow 185 ships to pass through it daily, compared to 125 now crossing the Bosphorus.
Large-scale urban and civil engineering projects have multiplied in recent years. They are tools used by the Erdogan government to stimulate the Turkish economy. Erdogan is the chairman of the right-wing Islamist Justice and Development Party. He has ruled Turkey since 2003, initially as Prime Minister and since 2014 as President.
The project met with heavy criticism. Both in scientific, ecological, economic and urban terms. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu described the Istanbul Canal as a “killer project”. He says it will worsen urban sprawl. It is also supposed to collect “undeserved income” at the expense of the environment.
Scientists also warn of risks. For example, changing the salinity of the water. Both from the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, much salty.
Change the sea
There are two streams in the Bosphorus. It’s like separating water and olive oil. At the bottom of the Bosphorus, a (denser) stream flows north. That comments Cemal Saydam, professor of environmental engineering at Ankara Hacettepe University.
“If you decide to unite the two seas, you cannot think about the next five or ten years. Or at the next election. You have to think in terms of geological time. Once you’ve done that, there’s no going back, ”says the academic.
It will also have landscaping effects. It will affect a forest area and force the displacement of about a million people.
“That is the last thing we need for Istanbul and Turkey. I can’t understand how such a project is planned. It’s neither logical nor feasible, ”said Nuray Çolak, member of the Defensa del Bosque del Norte group.
The canal that would make Istanbul an island is a very complex project. One of those works that change history. And sometimes nature too. It doesn’t always end well.