Experts warn against hasty reconstruction in earthquake zone
The Turkish government has begun rebuilding homes after this month's devastating earthquakes, but experts warn that a hasty response would make the situation worse.
The process, which the government calls "revitalization and reconstruction" of the earthquake zone, began Friday with a presidential decree published in the Official Gazette.
T24 journalist Cigdem Toker reported that state housing authority TOKI has issued at least eight tenders worth 6 billion liras for projects to build more than 3,000 houses in the quake zone.
An official speaking to Reuters on condition of also confirmed that "For several projects, tenders and contracts have been done. The process is moving very fast."
The Turkish government's initial plan now is to build 200,000 apartments and 70,000 village houses at a cost of at least $15 billion, the official said.
More than 160,000 buildings containing 520,000 apartments collapsed or were severely damaged in the Feb. 6 earthquakes that killed tens of thousands in Turkey and neighbouring Syria.
With elections coming up in a few months, President Tayyip Erdogan has promised to rebuild the homes within a year, though experts have said authorities should put safety ahead of speed.
"This regulation actually means the realization of the scenario that urban planners and architects have been saying for days that we should avoid at all costs," said urbanization expert Ayse Kose Badur of Turkey's Sabancı University.
Lawyer Gokhan Candogan said the procedure paves the way for the use of "places in forests that have no use for preservation as forests and cannot be converted into agricultural land" and "stony, rocky, unproductive and de facto forest areas suitable for settlement".
U.S. bank JPMorgan had estimated rebuilding houses and infrastructure will cost $25 billion.
The UNDP estimates that the disaster had produced between 116 million and 210 million tons of rubble, compared with 13 million tons of rubble after the earthquake in northwest Turkey in 1999.