Up to 350,000 people could be transferred to live in and around the area of the town of Famagusta, a Turkish Cypriot public functionary has stated.

Turkish Cypriot daily Yeniduzen quoted Merter Refikoglu, head of the Town Planners Chamber in the north as saying that under a proposed zoning plan for Famagusta, Trikomo and Agios Sergios, some 2,000 acres of agricultural land would be rezoned as residential.

If realised, Refikoglu said, the area in question could host around 350,000 inhabitants – as much as the entire population of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.

Implementation of the zoning plan has stalled after opponents earlier secured a court injunction.

It’s understood the plan was set to be published in the north’s ‘Official Gazette’ since December 2019, but that was put hold on hold due to the legal challenges.

According to Refikoglu, the zoning plan was devised on the sly by the association of contractors in the north, irregularly bypassing the Town Planners Chamber as well as the associations of engineers and architects.

He also claimed that despite the court injunction, construction is underway illegally on a number of residences in the area in question – and no official body is stepping in to put a stop to this.

In a related development, the partial opening up of the fenced off town in Famagusta began in October last year when a number of streets were cleared and beaches upgraded.

The Turkish Cypriot side then announced earlier this year that 3.5 per cent of Varosha, around five square kilometres, would be demilitarised and open for settlement on a pilot basis.

The first partial opening on October 8 last year was condemned by the government, the EU, UN and several countries, calling on Turkey to reverse the action which defies UN Security Council resolutions.