Turkey's Erdogan says to lay groundwork for Istanbul canal despite criticism

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Turkey will soon hold a tender for a huge canal on the edge of Istanbul and lay the groundwork for it in the summer, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, advancing a project which has drawn criticism over its cost and environmental impact.

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The Kanal Istanbul project will connect the Black Sea north of Istanbul to the Marmara Sea to the south and is estimated to cost 75 billion lira ($9.2 billion).

The government says it will ease traffic on the Bosphorus Strait and prevent accidents, but critics have said it will wreak environmental havoc and pollute fresh water resources. Turkey approved development plans for the project last month.

Speaking to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party, Erdogan said Turkey would push on with the plan “whether you like it or not”, referring to criticism from opposition parties and other opponents, and added the canal would be a “new windpipe” for the region.

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