The under-construction Kanal Istanbul project is gaining prominence in the country with elections looming near.
The Kanal project involves construction of a shipping route parallel to the existing Bosphorus strait, a globally valuable route.
The Kanal is said to be the last option for President Erdogan to retain his office. The same project was earlier called as “crazy project” by Erdogan himself.
Erdogan has endorsed the multi-million dollar project as an economically beneficial due to its ability to generate revenue for the country.
Opposition parties and environmentalists have termed the project as a recipe for violating a multilateral treaty that has established peace in the region.
What is the project?
The project will require digging up a new route to connect Sea of Marmara and Black sea through the city of Istanbul.
The project is expected to cost $15 billion, with a length of 45 km and 21m deep. The first phase has started in June and will be finished in next six years.
Significance of canal
The canal will be built parallel to the Bosphorus Strait, which itself is a natural waterway that separates Europe and Asia.
The movement of freight traffic through Bosphorous strait is governed by Montreux Convention since 1936.
The convention allows Russian ships to enter Mediterranean Sea from Black sea free of cost during peace time. However, naval vessels will not be allowed.
The new canal will be built on the European side of the country and will be safer and faster, making it attractive for commercial traffic to move by paying charges.
Since Naval traffic cannot be moved through existing strait, NATO warships can now enter Black sea through the new route.
Critics of the project
Several former military officials have requested Erdogan to leave the project as the Montreux convention is necessary for maintaining peace in the region.
Other critics allege that the project is used for diverting public attention from issues such as pandemic numbers, unemployment, soaring inflation and overall economic underperformance.
There is a major land deal corruption wherein investors have already bought land around the route where the canal will pass through.
Environmentalists say that polluted waters of Black Sea will be added into Sea of Marmara. Istanbul’s water supply system will also be affected.
The number for ships using the Bosphorous strait for movement has also reduced. This is due to increase in oil pipelines and reduced dependence on fossil fuel.