Third Bosphorus bridge to destroy historic landmarks in addition to forest

The construction of a third bridge over the Bosporus and the roads that will link it to İstanbul’s highways, already widely criticized for the massive destruction of forested land the project will entail, will also destroy some of İstanbul’s protected sites, including ancient city walls and a part of an early water supply system, Today’s Zaman reports.

According to several conservation boards, the third bridge and its highways, as well as a third airport and its related infrastructure that is planned for northern İstanbul, threaten natural sites currently under conservation and numerous cultural or historic landmarks already under protection.

Three Ministry of Culture and Tourism conservation boards, each responsible for a certain geographic area, recently responded to a query from attorney Barış Yıldırım, an executive board member of the Dersim Cultural and Natural Heritage Protection Initiative, as to whether or not there are any protected sites along the proposed site of the third bridge roads and the third airport.

The response from İstanbul 1st Cultural Assets Conservation Board indicates that the new roads built in connection with the third bridge project that will stretch west through the city will go through the remains of four ancient cities that have been declared archaeological sites, as well as the İnceğiz caves in the Çatalca region and the historic Anastasius city walls in Silivri.

The board said that salvage excavations should be carried out at the archaeological conservation sites as per Law No. 2863 on the protection of cultural and natural assets. The board may also demand a change to the planned routes.

The response from İstanbul 3rd Cultural Assets Conservation Board noted that part of the bridge project’s proposed construction is in a conservation zone along the Bosporus. The board also noted that in 1995, the İstanbul Northern Black Sea Coastal Strip was declared a natural conservation zone, adding that by law a ground survey must be conducted in the region and the board should be notified in the event of the discovery of any new cultural asset. The board further noted that there are historic sites including fountains, a boathouse and cannon emplacements at the project site.

The from İstanbul 6th Cultural Assets Conservation Board also responded to the lawyer’s request, saying that the area where the construction is planned is out of its jurisdiction, but it noted that the leg of the bridge and the exit highway on the Anatolian side will be constructed on a protected site, as it is part of the Bosporus region. It indicated that while there are currently no known cultural or historic sites in that area, all work should be stopped if such a discovery is made.

Yıldırım noted that according to existing conservation law, no bridge, roads or airports may be constructed in a protected region.

However, these and other mega construction projects, dams, and other development schemes promoted or sponsored by the government have been allowed to proceed in spite of court orders, and have already destroyed numerous sites of natural beauty, national parks and historic landmarks of cultural heritage.



About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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