Istanbul municipality launches legal battle against Erdoğan’s canal project

Istanbul municipality filed a legal complaint against the Ministry of Urbanisation and Environment on Thursday asking an administrative court to cancel the approval of an environmental impact assessment report on building a major ship canal through the city, Diken news site reported. 

The municipality said in its complaint that the ministry’s approval of the report last month should be immediately reversed, citing the potential negative effects of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s mega-project that aims building an artificial waterway in Istanbul to ease maritime traffic in the Bosporus Straits. 

“Sufficient evaluation has not been made on cultural heritage in relation to the project that will affect Istanbul as a whole from the Bosporus to the historical peninsula,” the municipality said, adding that the Ministry of Culture was not included in the project as a stakeholders. 

“There is no information or assessment in the report showing that international agreements have been taken into account,” it said, referring to the 1936 Montreux Convention, which regulates the transit of all ships through the Bosporus.

The municipality said the final environmental impact assessment report did not include appeals made and opinions submitted.

More than 100,000 Istanbul residents waited in long queues in January to lodge appeals against the report after the city’s opposition mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu called on people to mobilise and challenge Erdoğan’s project.