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100 construction vehicles and 400 trucks of the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality entered the campus of Middle East Technical University (METU) on Saturday (September 9) evening for the construction of a road planned to pass through the campus area.
The construction of a road which would pass through the forested land in the METU property is being discussed since the beginning of the 1990's.
Ankara Metropolitan Municipality was planning to construct two roads which would pass through the university campus.
The route of the road
The construction of the first road was completed in 2014 despite great disputes, massive protests and the lawsuits brought against the construction. This first road was foreseen in the METU construction plan which was approved in 1994.
The first road completed in 2004 entered the campus through the A-1 entrance east of the main entrance, goes along the eastern border and connects to 100. Yıl and Çiğdem neighbourhoods.
Regarding the second road which is the current subject of debate, it has been announced that a protocol was signed between the metropolitan municipality and the university on September 8.
The units began to cut down the trees in the area in the night hours the next day (September) and all the trees along the 4,5 km road were already cut down in the next morning.
Ankara Metropolitan Mayor Melih Gökçek announced the length of the road on his Twitter account, as well as that its construction was completed in one night.
According to the initial examinations, the width of the area which was cleaned for the road construction of the road varies between 90 and 100 meters.
Demirtaş: A forest cannot be handed over through a protocol
Research Institution on Rural Environment and Forestry Issues Executive Board member, forest engineer Ahmet Demirtaş talking to bianet about this initial examination stated that they had not been able to find out the details of the protocol signed between Ankara Metropolitan Municipality and METU and was therefore making his observations in the light the reports which appeared on the media.
Pointing out that the width of the road was reported 50 meters in the press initially, and was later reduced to 38 meters following a meeting with the university, Demirtaş said:
"In some parts, the width of the road is 90 and in other parts it's 100 meters. A 95-meter-wide area has been cleaned from trees on average".
Demirtaş also reminded:
"The fact that a protocol was signed between the municipality and the university does not mean that the construction is lawful. METU forest is a private forest which belongs to a public institution. A forested land cannot be handed over through such a protocol. Forested areas are protected by the Constitution [...] "
The history of the forest
The land which is also called the METU Forest, is a 3,100-hectare area which was created by growing a forest by sowing in the 4,500-hectare campus of METU.
The trial planting process began in 1958. In 1961, a "forestation campaign" was launched and the the forest was created in 40 years. (HK/DG)