In a report prepared 20 years ago by the current minister Veysel Eroğlu, it was stated that 58 of the 174 streams beds in İstanbul were extremely dangerous for constructing building around and demanded these sites to be urgently evacuated. What has been done throughout the past 20 years is the exact opposite of it. And, architect Mücella Yapıcı says ‘these are still the good days of İstanbul’.
The severe storm that it İstanbul on Thursday evening has once again led the issues regarding the governance of the city to be brought up. Excessive construction of concrete structures across the city has left no place for water to be discharged from land.
Even stream beds and their surroundings are used as construction sites in İstanbul. The current Minister of Forestry and Water, Veysel Eroğlu, had given a waning in a report that he had got prepared the issue regarding stream beds in 1997 while he was in office at the Water and Sewerage Administration of İstanbul.
In that report, it was stated that 58 of the 174 stream beds in İstanbul were posing a great risk for construction and a warning for an urgent evacuation of these sites was also given. The report that also demanded the necessary recovery efforts to be launched was sent in January of 1997 to all districts in the city; and the evacuations were requested to be completed by April of that year.
20 years have passed since then and there have not been any stream beds in İstanbul that remains empty. All of the sites, in both the Asian and European side, that had initially been designated as ‘red spots’ in that report are now completely filled up with structures.
The most recent 20 minutes-long storm experienced on Thursday affected virtually all districts of the city. Criticizing the unplanned urbanization and lack of inspections in İstanbul, esteemed architect Mücella Yapıcı said 90% of rain water does not get discharged from land surface in İstanbul.
“At least 50-60% of rain water needs to be absorbed by ground; some portion of it needs to get evaporated; and around 5-10% needs to flow. But the excessive construction across the city is preventing this… When a planning is done for a city, a heavy rainfall that would be experienced once in 100 or 500 years needs to be taken into account, too. You can’t just do your planning by taking into calculation a normal rain of two hours. I see it as a great miracle that we have gone through this storm without any loss of life despite the presence of an administration with officials who do not listen to trade bodies and scientists and who do not let the work get done based on merit. How could a city next to water get flooded?”
Chamber of Landscape Architects has also released a statement following the hazardous storm, drawing attention to the ecological destruction in İstanbul and providing recovery solutions.
The Chamber’s report included the following recommendations: stream beds that have been covered by buildings and roads should be resurfaced; the open stream beds should be protected and structures around them should be demolished and the sites should then be turned into active and/or passive sites of recreation; all forests should be protected diligently and ongoing projects that stand as risks to the forests must be cancelled; a plan for recovering damaged forests should be designed; all sea embankments should be removed; parks should not be seen as alternative sites for more consturction; Landscape Urbanism should be adapted as the primary policy; current laws on construction zones should be cancelled entirely and a new law that would meet the ecological needs of cities should be enacted after through and scientific examinations.
Front-page article of BirGün published on 29 July 2017, Saturday with the headline of 'When you build structures on stream beds, the streams run on streets'
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