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Turkey to build waterway to bypass Bosphorus Strait

05/24/2018
Graphic News

June 24, 2018 -- Work is due to start on the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in Turkey – a waterway to bypass the congested Bosphorus Strait. But critics fear that the Canal Istanbul, also known as Kanal Istanbul, will result in ecological disaster.

With estimated costs of around $16 billion, the 45km-canal connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, is one of the most ambitious of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's engineering mega-projects.

He has said that if he wins a third term in snap elections, his government’s priority will be its construction.

The Bosphorus is one of world’s busiest waterways with 53,000 vessels passing through in 2017, compared with 17,000 in Suez Canal and 12,000 in Panama Canal.

Erdogan says the canal will take the pressure off the Bosphorus and prevent accidents there. He says “mega-projects”, such as Istanbul’s third airport, are major contributors to the economy.

But opponents and scientists say that the plans — which would turn Istanbul’s European side into an island — could displace thousands of people, destroy forests, threaten the city's fresh water supply and increase oxygen levels in Black Sea, impacting wildlife.

Besides the ecological impact, experts warn that there is an open question of whether or not such a canal would violate the Montreux Convention, a 1936 treaty that ensures the free passage of commercial vessels and naval ships of countries along the Black Sea.


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