İstanbul’s urban transformation to kick off following Eid al-Fitr
Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar on Saturday said a recently announced urban transformation project to reinforce structures against earthquakes would commence following the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
A long-expected project, urban transformation is expected to first start in İstanbul following Eid al-Fitr, the three-day holiday that marks the end of the holy month of fasting, scheduled for Aug. 22. The metropolis was chosen first since it is one of the cities most vulnerable to earthquakes, and it has the largest population.
Officials from Bayraktar’s ministry have spent the past few months determining all the structures in İstanbul susceptible to earthquake damage. Experts are now deliberating to decide on whether these constructions will be demolished or reinforced. Strongly backing the project, the government has recently said it will not condone any misuse.
The government said it will not wait for the approval of all the apartment owners of a building that needs to be reinforced or demolished and that the approval of two-thirds of them will be seen as sufficient to demolish a [shoddy] building. If sufficient approval is not obtained, criminal complaints will be filed against apartment owners who do not allow the building to be demolished, it said. “The government is serious in not tolerating illegal structures [buildings vulnerable to earthquakes],” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had earlier commented.
Speaking at a conference on natural disasters in İstanbul on Saturday, Bayraktar called on all related parties — local authorities and NGOs — to back the project. “This is a national project above all politics. … We do not want to relive past miseries — due to natural disasters — experienced in this country,” he asserted. Bayraktar said around 6.5 million houses in Turkey need to either be reinforced or demolished.