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Turkey’s Canal Istanbul Megaproject Hits Legal Snag

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, carrying Ukrainian grain, sails in the Bosphorus en route to Lebanon, in Istanbul, Turkey August 3, 2022. REUTERS/Yoruk Isik

Turkey’s Canal Istanbul Megaproject Hits Legal Snag

Bloomberg
Total Views: 5805
February 15, 2024

By Beril Akman (Bloomberg) —

A Turkish court upheld an opposition complaint about a multi-billion dollar canal project pushed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a setback for the leader’s latest megaproject.

The opposition-run Istanbul municipality filed the lawsuit against the canal and the government’s proposed zoning plan, arguing it would cause irreparable damage to agricultural land, forests and water basins and worsen traffic congestion. The ministry can appeal the decision. 

Erdogan, who’s called the $15 billion canal his “crazy” project, envisions it as an alternative to the Bosporus Strait, arguing it would alleviate shipping traffic. Opponents criticize the potential environmental impact, citing concerns it could trigger a construction frenzy and swell the city’s population beyond the current 16 million residents.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, considered by supporters as a future rival to Erdogan, strongly opposes the project, calling it “suicide.” 

The project, which would require major financing if approved, is likely to feature in political campaigns for local elections at the end of March. Imamoglu will run against former environment minister Murat Kurum, a supporter of the canal. 

Erdogan has poured tens of billions of dollars into giant infrastructure projects to consolidate voter support in the past two decades. 

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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