News ID: 91722
Publish Date : 26 June 2021 - 22:03

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday launched a $15 billion canal project intended to relieve pressure on the busy Bosphorus Strait by laying the foundations of a bridge over the planned route.
Critics of what Erdogan dubbed his “crazy project” when he revealed it a decade ago question the viability of a waterway running 45 km (28 miles) through marshland and farms on the western edge of Istanbul, and say it will damage the environment.
“We view Kanal Istanbul as a project to save Istanbul’s future,” Erdogan told a ceremony. “We are opening a new page in the history of Turkey’s development.”
Construction workers poured cement into the foundations of the 1.6 km bridge as a crowd waved Turkish flags. Erdogan said the canal would take six years to complete.
The government says it is increasingly hazardous for tankers to wind their way between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara down the congested Bosphorus, which divides the European and Asian halves of Istanbul, a city of 15 million people.
Already 43,000 ships pass through every year, far more than the 25,000 the government considers safe, causing longer and longer waiting times. By 2050, it is estimated that number will rise to 78,000.
Nevertheless, a survey suggests most citizens oppose the project, as does Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu and the opposition CHP party, to which he belongs. Critics say it would destroy a marine ecosystem and endanger some of the city’s fresh water supply.

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