Maslak 1453 is an Agaoglu housing project that is nearly completed and whose apartments are already sold, although the courts decided to stop the execution of construction; shortly after, passing a motion of stay. Interestingly enough, the motion has passed as the construction is coming to an end. The court, apparently, sees it fit to stop the project after the slaughter of numerous trees, but only after an extensive period of time has passed. And no one has said a word in fear that Agaoglu himself will lose three to four years in time and money, which would upset Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, with whom Agaoglu is in close contact. Just as long as these men are fine, it seems that environment isn’t anyone’s problem.

Maslak, Istanbul Maslak 1453

Another issue are the underground tunnels in Taksim, the touristic entertainment and shopping district: The aim was to transfer the traffic underground. The changes in the plans concerning the construction of the tunnels were found illegal and canceled. (The canceled plan included Topcu Military Barracks, the mention of the construction of which had a contribution to Gezi Park Protests of 2013). The construction, although now canceled, started in September of 2013. The tunnels are constructed and in use (in spite of all court decisions), and even flooded. Another cancelation decision was made, and the tunnels are now considered unlicensed.

Taksim Square, Istanbul

These two situations, after reading them one after another, causes me to stop and think. Now I’m going to tell you a story consisting of constructed buildings without a license or court order, slaughtered nature, and the friends of those included in these illegal activities.

“I have a project: I want to enter any forest to build myself a hyper-luxurious residence. I invested a lot in this and bought myself a great construction plan. Someone comes and tells me I cannot do it, and even takes it to the court! I don’t care about the law, I just go on with my construction, for I have powerful friends. The courts tend to take a long time, and in this time I can build my magnificent palace. Just as I’m about to finish, the courts tell me I cannot do it. Well, I already cut down a lot of trees, the money is made, the building is done… now you decide to stop me? So the courts just watch me as I do my business, and we live happily ever after.” (The story has nothing to do with reality, it’s just a fairytale!!)

Don’t you also think that there is something wrong? How do courts take such a long time? How do people with powerful friends just do whatever they like although there is a case against them? What happens after the destruction of our precious – and rare – green areas?

Talking about illegal constructions, I’m reminded of the government plans to change the course of Kurbagalidere River in Kusdili Field in Kadikoy, a downtown center of Asian side of Istanbul. It is also illegal and there are court decisions against it and a motion for stay. We, as a people, stopped Topcu Military Barracks. What if they were to build yet another mall, this time in Kusdili? It seems to me that’s how things are going to turn out. Just as it was with Gezi Park Protests, it is now up to us to stop these illegal constructions.

How do you think Turkey’s urban planning policies will further affect green areas?

Original article, originally published in Turkish, here.

Credits: Images by Erdal De and Let Ideas Compete. Data linked to sources.