“The ambitious Canal Istanbul project could displace thousands of people, imperil the city’s tenuous water supply, and impact ocean life, critics say.”
Istanbul’s location on the Bosporus has been vital to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empire as well as the modern state of Turkey. This is one of those crucial chokepoints of global commerce like the Straits of Malacca, and the demands on both of these natural waterways will soon exceed their capacity. Thailand is working on the Thai canal to relieve the pressures on the Straits of Malacca (and enrich themselves in the process); Nicaragua is also seeking to create an alternative to the Panama Canal which is in the process of expanding their locks to accommodate the massive container ships.
Istanbul is likewise looking to find other ways the keep their locational advantage as the gateway to the Black Sea region and beyond. Projects on this grand of a scale have tremendous real estate, trading, transportation and even tourism impacts. They can also bring negative impacts to the local water supply, wildlife, other environmental concerns. The bigger the project, the bigger the environmental risks and the greater the economic rewards.