Two weeks ago, Turkish President Abdullah Gül approved a law that opened a parcel of land in Turkey formerly classified as forests — known as “2B” land — to construction. Today, according to Dünya newspaper, a six-month period of bidding opened for the land, which is estimated to be worth approximately $15 billion in sum.
Whether occupied or not, all 2B land will be up for sale and development.
Much of the 2B land, which the state had previously declared illegal to develop, is currently occupied by public buildings, houses, farms, graveyards, and meadows. Ninety percent of it is located in Turkey’s coastal provinces, in rapidly expanding cities and tourist destinations such as Istanbul, Antalya, Muğla, and Mersin.
Individuals and companies traded and used these parts of the 2B lands without paying rent or taxes, according to Turkish daily Today’s Zaman. Some portion of the land hasn’t been used yet, but it is unclear exactly how much is still undeveloped.
2B lands that aren’t yet developed will be used for mass housing, according to the law that President Gül passed last month. Land that is currently in use will be sold for 70 percent of its current value. Buyers who can pay the full cost upfront will receive a 20 percent discount, while buyers who pay half upfront will receive a 10 percent discount.
“Opening the country’s forests to loot and plunder”
Not everyone is convinced that the arrangement will improve the problem of unhealthy urban development in Turkey — and some are worried that it will make it worse.
A few days before the 2B land law was passed in April, Turkey’s Union of Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) held a press conference decrying the proposed regulation on the grounds that it was just an excuse to further develop Turkey’s natural spaces and legitimize the deportation of people from their settlements.
The TMMOB speakers also alleged that the actual amount of land opened up to new construction by the law was indefinite. Until today, they said, Turkey hasn’t seen a single law “open the country to loot and plunder” on such a scale as this.
Turkey: Increasingly pursuing development at the cost of human, natural resources
It’s not clear how much the law will affect existing developments versus undeveloped natural areas. Nor has the government explained why the empty 2B lands — the ones untouched by illegal squatters and developers — are losing their classification as protected forest land.
Only time will tell how much of Turkey’s pristine natural areas are actually affected by this law. But the concerns of the TMMOB are certainly understandable in light of alarming construction developments that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has pursued in recent months.
Istanbul’s central square is slated for a concrete makeover if city officials get their way. And even eco-friendly installations such as wind energy transmission lines are sometimes built right through protected organic farming areas.
As long as Turkey’s government continues backing these careless, shortsighted developments, its expert engineers and concerned citizens will continue calling for more transparency and public input in the process. And rightly so.
Read more about urban development in Turkey:
Wind Energy And Organic Farming Collide In Western Turkey
Istanbul’s Main Square To Become Lifeless And Isolated In New Urban Plan, Opponents Warn
Hydroelectric Dam In Turkey May Cause Environmental Catastrophe In Georgia
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