I am sure I am not the only one that questioned Erdogan’s announcement of a new Istanbul canal to replace the Bosporous, not least because its timing on the verge of an election was very suspicious indeed. But apparently government officials are currently assessing potential sites for the Canal’s path, and land values have increased tremendously in the area according to developers.
“We started surveying the land for the construction of the canal and we are working on the details,” an official from Istanbul Municipality told the Hürriyet Daily News recently, adding that the canal would be constructed in the northwestern part of Istanbul, near Terkos Lake.
Real estate agents, however, said the location was already chosen. “We are almost sure the location will be around Değirmenköy since the prices in that region have gone up 200 percent in the past year,” Reka Balkan, a member from the real estate agencies’ chamber, told the Daily News.
Balkan said they received a number of phone calls everyday asking for the land prices in the area.
The Bosporus Strait — the waterway the new canal would replace — is the only southern sea-access to the Black Sea countries like Romania, Russia, Georgia and Ukraine. As a result it is congested and vessels often have to wait up to 3 days before they can enter. This causes pollution in the gorgeous Sea of Marmara. Arguably the biggest problem is the potential for environmental disaster from the 9000 oil tankers carrying 145 million tonnes of crude oil through the waterway last year and increasing every year.
So replacing it would be great for the environment and a magnificent feat of engineering. But it would also cost $20 billion, and several previous attempts have been deemed unviable because of issues with the saline levels in the Sea of Marmara compared to the Black Sea. Time will tell if Erdogan is the man who can.