New Turkish Canal would rival Suez and Panama.

 
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Turkey is moving forward with controversial plans to build a canal to rival Suez and Panama but, its opponents say, it threatens to wreak environmental havoc, destroy budgetary balances and drive sprawl in Europe's biggest city.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that "ground breaking" for the canal project would take place within months for the Istanbul Canal, which he dubbed his "crazy project" when he first introduced it in 2011. "God willing, we will lay the foundation for a new canal parallel to the Bosporus, what we call the Istanbul Canal--my dream--most likely at the end of this year or at the beginning of 2018," Erdogan said. "There is a Suez, a Panama and there will be an Istanbul Canal."

The 43-kilometer (27-mile) canal would slice through forest and farmland to connect the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and render half of Istanbul an island. The project is part of the government's $250 billion infrastructure building spree by 2023 to power economic growth.

Supporters say the Istanbul Canal will transform Turkey into a global trade and energy hub and reduce risks posed by the 53,000 ships, many carrying hazardous materials, that each year transit the Bosporus, which twists through Istanbul and is lined with priceless villas and palaces.

The Montreux Convention of 1936 guarantees free passage for civilian ships sailing through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles at the other end of the Sea of Marmara, and it is not clear how Turkey will compel vessels to use the canal for a fee.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Oct. 10 that "ground breaking " would take place within months for the Istanbul Canal, which he dubbed his "crazy project" when he introduced it in 2011.

"God willing, we will lay the foundation for a new canal parallel to the Bosporus, what we call the Istanbul Canal--my dream--most likely at the end of this year or at the beginning of 2018," Erdogan said. "There is a Suez, a Panama and there will be an Istanbul Canal."

The 43-kilometer (27-mile) canal would slice through forest and farmland to connect the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and render half of Istanbul an island. The project is part of the government's $250 billion infrastructure building spree by 2023 to power economic growth.

Supporters say the Istanbul Canal will transform Turkey into a global trade and energy hub and reduce risks posed by the 53,000 ships, many carrying hazardous materials, that each year transit the Bosporus, which twists through...

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