IMM could not start the tension reinforcement project in the Basilica Cistern, as the Conservation Board had not received approval for 57 days. Mahir Polat, Deputy Secretary General of IMM, made a press conference about the dangers in the 1500-year-old structure and project processes and explained the risk on the spot. Polat stated that they are waiting for the approval of the project from 23 October 2020 until the point reached, “We expect the process to be opened and the projects we have presented many times to be approved as soon as possible. "The necessary duties and responsibilities should be fulfilled in carrying these structures that will survive after our age, life and generation to the future."
During the restoration work carried out in the Basilica Cistern, one of the iconic historical buildings of Istanbul, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, it was observed that the tension system did not continue inside the columns. Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) prepared a project regarding the work required by the building and conveyed the issue to the Conservation Regional Board on 23 October 2020. Although 57 days have passed since this date, the study has not been approved yet. Deputy Secretary General of IMM Mahir Polat made a press statement at the Basilica Cistern regarding the current risk situation of the building and what needs to be done. Polat stated that they once again saw how sensitive the public is about cultural assets and historical artifacts in this process and said, “Project approvals in the process, different explanations of the process are not issues related to the main priority of the issue. "The important thing is that a 1500-year-old building survives so that it will be passed on to the next generations."
"OPERATION CANNOT START WITHOUT APPROVING THE PROTECTION REGIONAL BOARD"
Polat noted that restoration work has been carried out in the Basilica Cistern since 2017, and said that at the current stage, the tensioners connecting the columns of the building did not function, they realized that it was idle. Stating that this is a situation that can be detected during restoration, Polat said, “If you see a need for strengthening or a deficiency in the building during restoration, the issue is immediately forwarded to the Conservation Regional Boards. Therefore, you need to submit a project and get approval to strengthen the tensioners and make new manufacturing. We did just that. On October 23, 2020, we conveyed the issue to the Conservation District Board. We demanded that the risk of the building against earthquakes be immediately put on the agenda, evaluated and the project approved against possible demolition, collapse and similar needs. If the Conservation Regional Board does not allow this work, the study cannot be carried out by IMM ”.
"THIS WAS KNOWN AND EXPECTED"
Polat emphasized that before the restoration, in 2012 and 2017, an opinion was made that the analysis of the building against earthquake and its own static situation should be made during the restoration. “This was a known and expected situation. This known situation was immediately examined by the Conservation Regional Board 57 days ago, stating the importance of the issue. Write annex repeatedly confirmed that the board's projects, known in Turkey, recognized Prof. It was shared with Feridun Çılı's static projects ”.
"40 DAYS NOT TAKEN ON THE AGENDA"
Polat stated that they were waiting for the Protection Board to examine the project as soon as possible after this stage and give its approval.
“The Preservation Board of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, unfortunately, took it on the agenda after exactly 40 on December 2, 2020. The issue we sent urgently regarding the risk of collapse of the 1500-year-old building was not on the agenda for exactly 40 days. When it was brought to the agenda, it was decided to see it on the spot 7 days later on 9 December 2020. Until this date, the Protection Boards did not make a decision about this place. No decision was made after the decision to see it on the spot. "
"WE HAVE STARTED TO CALL CONSULTANCY"
Polat, who stated that they started to call for conscience with their posts on their personal social media accounts due to the urgency of the matter, said, “On the 50th day after this call, the Deputy General Directorate of Cultural Heritage Museums of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism made an unsigned statement on the subject from his personal social media account. In the statement, he made statements of luck that there was no earthquake risk and urgency here. Although we have all kinds of scientific reports, information and documents, the committee that will give an opinion on the issue has not yet responded, but they explained the issue through this method, not through documents or reports. Here, a statement was made that a Science Advisory Board opinion is expected. It was said that a decision was made on December 9, 2020. However, IMM has a representative in the Regional Conservation Board. We personally attend from time to time. We know ourselves that no decision was made as said on this date. Because we are in that committee ”.
"DECISION SHOULD BE MADE ON THE SAME DAY DUE TO THE URGENCY"
Reminding that they have called for any decision to be conveyed to us immediately, Polat said, “But since there is no such statement, the statement we made that day still remains unanswered on social media. If there is such a decision, we expect them to share it with the public.
Polat, referring to the decision of the Conservation Regional Board dated 09 December 2020, continued his speech as follows:
“Conservation District Board decisions are evaluated after one week. On 09 December 2020, when the decision dated 15 December 2020 was seen, the Regional Conservation Board, with a decision that emerged on the 52nd day of the process, said that all projects, despite the work of our scientific committee, were given additional reports and a new scientific delegation opinion was presented, although we gave delegation projects three times. he decided. This means additional time loss. Prof. Füsun Alioğlu, Prof. Engin Akyürek, Prof. Feridun Çılı, Dr. Although we delivered a report signed by Kerim Altuğ to them on the same day, they did not take this into consideration at the meeting. They made the decision dated December 15, 2020, for which they asked for the opinion of the Science Committee again. At the end of all this, we conveyed the project in two days with the Science Committee meeting due to the urgency of the issue. The decision of the board on December 15, 2020 meant not approving our project and a waste of new time. As soon as the subject came to us, we prepared it again in two days on December 18, 2020 and returned it to the board. We conveyed the opinions of 20 experts, including the Science Committee. On such a sensitive issue, the Conservation Regional Board should have made a decision and clear the way, even that day. We have been waiting for an answer from them ever since. "
"DID THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND TOURISM CAUSE THE DELAY?"
Polat concluded his remarks about the statements of the Ministry of Culture Advisor, who shared a journalist's article on the subject:
“We have seen that we create a perception and share that the issue will be resolved immediately if the reports are given on time. The fact that this opinion, which states that the reports and projects of a subject we submitted 57 days ago with all its requirements are incomplete, will undoubtedly be seen with the documents I shared. There is a very important detail that Birol İnceciköz, Deputy General Manager Responsible for Protection Boards of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, referred to in the same article, mentioned in his statement to a journalist. Regional Conservation Boards are independent boards. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism manages these boards only administratively and technically. İnceciköz said in his statement that, as of yesterday, projects will be approved immediately if they are submitted. A bureaucrat cannot make this statement. If the Regional Conservation Boards are not independent and the decisions are made from Ankara, did the Ministry of Culture and Tourism cause this 57-day delay, not the Preservation Board? "