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Current Affairs

Kanal Istanbul project

Date: 24 August 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The under-construction Kanal Istanbul project is gaining prominence in the country with elections looming near.

 

Background

The Kanal project involves construction of a shipping route parallel to the existing Bosphorus strait, a globally valuable route.

 

Details

  • 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.

 

Concerns

  • 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.