As a war of words resumed between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu over the long-planned Canal İstanbul project, the latter has described the mega project as “treason against the city,” according to the Diken news website.
İmamoğlu on Dec. 9 denied a claim by Transportation Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan that his municipality was in agreement with the government for construction of the Canal İstanbul project.
“He should mind his own business,” President Erdoğan responded. “[The project] will make a splash in the world.”
When asked about Erdoğan’s remarks İmamoğlu said, “I was elected to protect my constituency,” adding that the city’s 16 million residents would decide the future of the project.
“I’m speaking as a representative of İstanbulites, and people are going to have to get used to it,” he added.
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 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.