Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu lambasted the Turkish government for a contentious multi-billion-dollar infrastructure megaproject and is rallying both political and public support, T24 reported on Wednesday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called the prospective Istanbul Canal, a 50-kilometre-long artificial waterway linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara through Istanbul, the “project of the century”, however critics of the plan say the president is risking irreversible ecological damage in an attempt to reinvigorate the stuttering construction sector and provide cash for its allies and clients.
“The man who runs the state thinks of the money that will go into the pockets of his people,” T24 quoted İmamoğlu as saying while inspecting Yeniköy and Karaburun, two locations among the regions that will be most affected by the Canal Istanbul project.
“I mean, (the project is) not crazy, it’s a project of some crazy person. There’s no other name for it.”
Earlier in the month, İmamoğlu said he would speak with Turkey’s political party leaders, except Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), to discuss the possible damages and dangers the Istanbul Canal project will pose.
The mayor of Turkey’s largest city stated on Wednesday that the chairmen of AKP splinter groups, the Future Party’s Ahmet Davutoğlu and Democracy and Progress Party’s Ali Babacan, were also against the project, according to T24.
İmamoğlu said he heard from many politicians who serve or have served the AKP that the Istanbul Canal project is “very harmful, objectionable, meaningless”.
İmamoğlu, a member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has called the project a “great disaster” that would only be further exacerbated by the effects of climate change.
He underlined on Wednesday that he will fight the project by legal means until the last moment and called on the public to fight against the government bid.
“I wish and invite all of Turkey to listen to, oppose and seek all legal rights to prevent this project, which will destroy nature, slaughter and betray Istanbul greatly, which will cause thousands of people who have come from abroad and bought land here to get money into their pockets, generate billions of liras in income,” İmamoğlu said.
İmamoğlu shared a petition on Twitter on Sunday, calling for Istanbul’s 16 million residents to object to the project.