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Public Announcement about the Eurasia Tunnel Project Istanbul Turkey

 

 

Bizim Avrupa - Europa Nostra Turkey has been invited to give its opinion on the Eurasia Tunnel Project Istanbul, also known as the Istanbul Strait Road Crossing Project that is linking European and Asian sides of Istanbul under the seabed between Catladikapi in the Historic Peninsula and the Haydarpasa Port.

 

The Stakeholder Engagement Plan, which is a part of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment process of the Eurasia Tunnel Project, has been carried out by the ERM GmbH and ERC on behalf of the contractor company ATAS. The timing of the consultation is quite striking because there has been no activity related to consultation, information sharing and similar consideration since 2006, when the preparatory works for the Project started.  Now it is too late; the construction firms have been appointed and the groundbreaking ceremony has taken place already.

 

As a result of the investigation we carried out on why this quest for participation is taking place at this belated stage, we discovered that the stakeholder participation efforts are in order to apply and get international credit. At this point, we would like to express our criticisms regarding the Project.

 

1.      The Euroasia Tunnel Project does not take place in any of the macro-scale urban strategic plans for Istanbul. It is contradictory to the basic principles of urban conservation.  It was not indicated on the Conservation Plan for Istanbul.  The project has come out of the blue and threatens the cultural heritage of the ancient city of Istanbul. As we are at a stage of accepting a new Conservation Plan for the Historic Peninsula, such a Project is illegal.

2.      The tunnel Project which proposes to insert an eight lane expressway allowing the passage of 70 000 cars to travel from Europe to Asia or vice-versa, will have adverse  effects such as air pollution and noise along the Land and Sea Walls and near the Archaeological Park area of the Historic City, sites which are on the World Heritage List.  The Marble Tower, which is a medieval palatial structure, will be surrounded by traffic lanes and inaccessible.  Being part of the World Heritage values of Istanbul, this monument should not be threatened physically; its meaning and integrity should be respected. Another critical issue is the limitations which the Project imposes on the movement of pedestrians along the South shore of the Historic Peninsula. Heavy traffic will make it a torture; the movement of the locals from the neighbouring areas to the shores of the Historic Peninsula which they use for recreation will be greatly impaired or stopped.

3.      The Project will lead increase the traffic jam around the tunnel exits which will be located next to the Cankurtaran area on the European side and Göztepe junction on the Asian part of the city.  These areas are already suffering from heavy traffic and congestion.

4.      According to the Project, the exhaust gases emanating from the cars will be emitted by 5 m high chimneys; on the European side the location of the chimney is across an important archaeological feature, the Bukoleon Palace from the Byzantine period. On the Asian side it will be located near the Selimiye Barracks, another prominent feature in the silhouette of the city.  The emission of poisonous gases at points which are inhabited is very critical for the public.  There are hospitals, universities, offices, hotel, and houses within close reach of these chimneys. The prevailing winds will spread the gases all over the Sultanahmet and Selimiye area and threaten all, including the natural life around.  The height of the chimneys were limited due to visual considerations, however standards for such structures require higher shafts.

5.      This project was unanimously rejected in 2009 by the Monument Councils in charge of the Historic Peninsula but as a result of political pressure from the central government, it was reviewed and accepted by majority of the members in October 2010. The case was taken to court by the Urban Planners Association Istanbul Branch due to its unacceptable impacts on the historic city and clashes with basic principles of urban planning.

6.      As a result of the excavations for the tunnel, approximately 1 million cubic meters of soil and rock will emerge; a great mass contaminated with chemicals due to the construction technique used for the work under the seabed. How the environmental pollution created by this rubble will be solved is another critical point.

7.      As a result of our research, we think that the Eurasia Tunnel Project will have serious negative impacts on the Historic City of Istanbul, its citizens, their daily life, commercial and social activities. In the long run, the Project can lead to irreversible negative outcomes for the universal value of the city, the health of its inhabitants and its visitors.

 

We think that it is important to inform the public about the risks of the Project and ask the responsible people to study it thoroughly before providing any kind of support.

 

Bizim Avrupa - Europa Nostra Turkey