Kanal İstanbul to wreak irreversible ecological destruction, watchdog says

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Turkey’s Chamber of Civil Engineers (ÇMO) has released a report on “Kanal İstanbul” – a canal similar to the Bosporus that will be dug on the western side of İstanbul and will connect the Marmara and Black seas – arguing that it will bring irreversible ecological destruction to a lagoon basin near Küçükçekmece.

An exclusive story in the Birgün daily on Friday exposed serious concerns over Kanal İstanbul’s environmental effects by changing the area’s thousand-year-old natural identity.

In light of recent excavations that unearthed the antiquity of the area going back to the Byzantine era, the ÇMO report said: “The Küçükçekmece Lagoon Basin, where various cultures have survived for centuries, with all its culture, history, natural fields, forests, lagoons, lakes and ponds, cultivated areas, streams and forages, has been under the pressure of construction projects, beginning from the 2000s.”

According to the report, since the Küçükçekmece area was zoned for construction, the population has been rapidly increasing, resulting in a growing level of drought. As a consequence of the commercialization of water flows in the fields, every living being will be negatively affected.

After the canal’s opening, there will be a flow from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea, both of which have different qualities of water. According to the report, this flow from the Black Sea will cause cultivated areas to be salinized due to its low salinity at the surface, the conditions for agriculture and animal husbandry in all northwestern provinces will change drastically and the cultural memory of the area will be damaged.

In addition to that, the ÇMO underlines a more imminent threat to İstanbul residents. Almost 29 percent of the water demand of the city is met by the Terkos and Sazlıdere reservoirs, with Sazlıdere slated for destruction because of the Kanal İstanbul project.

According to a recent Reuters report, villagers from Sazlıbosna, located near Sazlıdere reservoir, are worried about the project. They wanted to raise their concerns at a meeting in March but instead “were met by police carrying rifles and tear gas.”

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