To the EIA positive decision of TEMA Foundation, Ministry of Environment and Urbanization for Kanal Istanbul Project; filed a lawsuit on the grounds that the decision was not in accordance with law, public interest and scientific justification. In the lawsuit filed on February 17, 2020, the Foundation demands that the execution of the EIA positive decision be suspended and canceled. The petition prepared with 14 scientists and experts, approximately 140 pages with additional expert opinions.
The Canal Istanbul Project, which will completely change all of the land and marine habitats, groundwater system and transportation system of Istanbul, is carried out only through the EIA process without high-scale spatial planning and strategic environmental assessment studies, causing significant risks to be ignored. The project, which does not undergo a comprehensive assessment at the upper scale, is tried to be implemented without considering the risks and possible negative consequences in the future. The current EIA report is far from being a report based on scientific data and measures, and does not address the concerns of hundreds of thousands of people who object to the project.
Istanbul's water assets, forest, agriculture and pasture areas are at risk
Sazlıdere and Terkos basin, which are the most important water reserves in the project area and still provide water to Istanbul, carry the risk of extinction and salting with this project. Terkos and Sazlıdere have 29% of the city's total water accumulation capacity. According to the EIA Report, most of the Sazlıdere dam will be disabled. This means the loss of an important water resource for the people of Istanbul, who feel the effects of the climate crisis (eg drought) more. Groundwater basins concentrated under Thrace are strategic fresh water reserves that are vital to drought caused by climate change. In the event of a leak from seawater to groundwater, there is a risk of salting irreversibly in groundwater all over the European Side. The EIA report of the project touches on the risk of salting, but if this risk occurs, it is not considered that there is no solution to the problem.
With the project, approximately 142 million m2 of agricultural land will be destroyed. This means approximately 19% of Istanbul's agricultural land. In the event of the Kanal Istanbul Project, agricultural lands, most of which are located on the European side, will be rapidly opened for construction, will go out of agriculture, and the concrete of the area will be inevitable. This situation will threaten the food security of people living in Istanbul.
According to the EIA Report, it is stated that a 421 ha forest will be cut due to the Kanal Istanbul Project. 287,03 ha of the forest, which will be primarily cut, is in the status of the Conservation Forest and is within the boundaries of the “Terkos Lake Conservation Forest”. Conservation forests; forests protected by the forest's services other than wood production, such as soil conservation, water production, fresh air supply and national security. Protection of these areas is the water and clean air security of the people of Istanbul.
The impact of the new island on natural life is not predictable
Channel Istanbul route in particular indicates that natural assets are located in Thrace, rich and unique area in terms of TEMA Foundation Chairman Deniz Atac "routes, located Terkos Lake and vicinity, Turkey is one of the regions with the richest flora. The Kanal Istanbul Project will separate the European Side of Istanbul from Thrace, creating an island with a densely populated population of about 8 million. It is not predictable how natural life will respond to such isolation. Terkos Lake, Sazlıdere Dam and Küçükçekmece lake, which are located in the canal route, are extremely important ecosystems for birds, bivores and freshwater creatures. It is also included in the EIA report that there are 249 bird species, 29 freshwater species and 7 two-living species in these areas. It has been explained that there are 37 terrestrial mammals, 239 insect species and 24 reptile species in habitats such as dunes, stony rocky, shrub, shrubbery, pasture, agriculture, forest area. More than half of the 487 bird species found in Turkey (51%) is living in the project area. This project, Turkey will have no Kucukcekmece Lake and the important bird areas will vanish, "he said.
Climate balance of the region is under threat
Of large-scale projects such as the Canal Istanbul project; The effects it creates due to changes in land use are strong enough to affect the small-scale climate (microclimate) in the region and then the regional climate. Such a large land use change; In a very short period of time, the heat and humidity fluxes will affect the temperature, humidity, evaporation, cloudiness, precipitation and wind regimes and areal distribution patterns and will turn into urban heat islands.
The Turkish Straits system, which connects the Black Sea to Marmara, has a two-layer water and stream structure with its own characteristics. Therefore, combining the Black Sea and Marmara like any other sea poses a significant risk to life in the Sea of Marmara and even in Istanbul. The Bosphorus strikes a balance between the waters coming to the Black Sea by rivers and the waters coming from the Mediterranean. The climatic balance of the Black Sea is completely dependent on this system, and any change in this system will negatively affect the climatic dynamics of the Black Sea in the long run. On the other hand, with the Canal Project, the increase in the amount of food to enter Marmara means the amount of oxygen in Marmara decreases and Marmara becomes a dead sea.
While TEMA Foundation filed a lawsuit for the annulment of the EIA positive decision on the grounds that the EIA report is a report that is not based on scientific data and does not contain precautions; Despite the positive decision of the EIA, it remains hoped that the relevant decision-makers, the public and stakeholders will hear their voices and that the project will be canceled.