Concerns rise on whether urban transformation now urban looting
People are increasingly reacting negatively to urban transformation projects which have long been viewed as prestigious moves of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government.
As part of an urban transformation project that was officially started by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Nov. 5, 2012, more than 500,000 houses in 25 districts including Esenler, Bağcılar, Gaziosmanpaşa, Zeytinburnu, Pendik, Kartal, Küçükçekmece, Sarıyer, Bayrampaşa, Güngören, Sultangazi, Tuzla, Kadıköy, Beşiktaş and Üsküdar will be destroyed within a short period of time. However, there are now concerns that this ambitious project will affect thousands of people.
Gülizar Karslıoğlu, whose house was partially demolished by local authorities, left her home with her daughter and granddaughter. Karslıoğlu, who lives in the Sarıgöl district — which is part of the transformation project — says that they faced intimidation and threats by construction firms despite the fact that they had been assured procedures would be performed fairly. Karslıoğlu says that she takes cares of her mother, who is 85: “We stayed hungry sometimes to build our home. But now the municipality and the construction firm are doing their best to take it away from us. We were threatened by local authorities to leave immediately and that even the rest of the building could be demolished.”
Even after being partially demolished, the rents for homes in Sarıgöl have increased dramatically. Noting that rental subsidies given to land and homeowners would not be enough, Fatma Kartal says that they are trying to coordinate people who are affected by this process in an attempt to defend their rights.
Saying that they are unable to sleep well at night because of the unsafe environments, Kartal also said: “We want transformation here. We do not want to go anywhere else. We spent our childhood here. But the views of the people are not taken into account. We do not want to live in concrete cages.” Minister of Environment and Urban Planning İdris Güllüce, who visited the Esenler district last week, stressed that people’s consent was very important in the urban transformation projects.