In Turkey, the government will open 4.1 million acres of formerly protected land for purchase, a move that could bring in as much as $15 billion. Bidding began today. Much of the land in question is on the outskirts of major coastal cities like Istanbul and Antalya. And a lot of it is already occupied with buildings, housing, even graveyards.
The decision aims to stem illegal development (and, not inconsequentially, to tax builders and squatters). According to Today's Zaman, an English-language daily based in Istanbul:
This is a longstanding problem that led to unhealthy urbanization due to the ignorance of state authorities. Under the new law, 2B land eligible for construction -- land that has not been built upon yet -- will be allocated to mass housing, while 2B land that is already used by individuals will be sold to the current users for 70 percent of the land's current value. Ninety percent of such land is located in Turkey's coastal provinces, including İstanbul, Muğla, Antalya and Mersin. Balıkesir and Adapazarı are also on the list.
Not everyone is so thrilled. According to Green Prophet, Turkey’s Union of Engineers and Architects held a press conference decrying the proposed regulation. They told reporters the move would "open the country to loot and plunder," overdeveloping natural spaces and legitimizing the deportation of people from their settlements.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Murad Sezer