İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has denied a claim by Transportation Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan that his municipality is in agreement with the government for construction of the Canal İstanbul project, the Diken news website reported on Monday.
Speaking to journalists prior to a city council meeting, İmamoğlu denounced the minister’s remarks as “another empty, unfortunate statement.”
He said that while a series of protocols were signed between the municipality and other government agencies in the past, they are in no way legally binding.
“I have always warned the minister to make statements after exhaustively researching the facts,” İmamoğlu said.
“On June 23, 2019, the people revoked all past agreements on the matter,” he said, referring to his election victory in the mayoral race in which he defeated the ruling party nominee as the opposition candidate.
The Canal İstanbul is an artificial sea-level waterway bisecting the European side of İstanbul to connect the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean, scheduled to be completed by 2023.
The project, announced in 2011 by then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is meant to provide relief to shipping traffic through the Bosporus, particularly oil tankers.
The 45-kilometer (28 mile) canal will have a capacity of 160 vessels a day.
Critics argue that the project will adversely affect the environment and put İstanbul’s water supply in danger.