İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on Wednesday outlined 15 reasons to oppose the government’s planned Canal İstanbul project, with the top objection being the possibility of a water shortage in the city, according to local media.
“I have announced the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s withdrawal from the Canal İstanbul protocol because our discussions with scientists have revealed that this is a project of a deadly nature, targeting the very existence of 16 million [residents] as well as the security of 82 million [citizens],” İmamoğlu said, urging the government to immediately abandon its plans “regardless of whatever promises might have been made.”
İmamoğlu said the first reason for his opposition to the project is the possible water shortage it could cause.
“If the project is realized, İstanbul, which has an 8,500-year history, will lose both its under and above-ground water sources,” İmamoğlu said, citing expert reports. “Aside from the 14 other reasons, this alone dictates scrapping the project.”
In addition to the possibility of drought, İmamoğlu said the maritime loads traveling through the waterway would trigger the risk of an earthquake in the city.
As a third reason, İmamoğlu said the planned construction around the canal, which was included in a recent presentation made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, would alter the heat, humidity and wind in the region to turn İstanbul into an “island of heat,” which in turn would lead to one disaster after another.
He listed other reasons, such as the destruction of some of the city’s historic sites; the high expropriation costs that would impose an additional financial burden on the already strained budgets of residents; the exorbitant expenses to his municipality; the unrealistic nature of expectations with respect to revenue generation; a worsening of İstanbul’s overpopulation and traffic problems; the disposal of 2 billion cubic meters of earth displaced by the project; the negative impacts on the fishing industry; and the undermining of the international security protections provided by the Montreux Convention, which limits the access of warships belonging non-littoral states to the Black Sea.
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.