Minister of Environment Dr Hussain Rasheed, on Monday, revealed that government efforts were underway to halt smoke emissions from the landfill island of Thilafushi, Kaafu Atoll, in 2020.
He revealed that the environment ministry was working to procure heavy equipment and that it had lodged requests with the finance ministry to secure funding. Furthermore, he added that discussions were held with Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) to bring the equipment over as soon as possible.
The minister was initially summoned to the parliament to clarify the commencement date of the landfill site project in Fulidhoo, Vaavu Atoll. Several parliamentarians proceeded to question the minister on the state's waste management policies for their respective constituencies and expressed concern over the continuation of open waste-burning in Thilafushi.
Expressing concern over the smoke emissions from the island, Minister Hussain stated that, "a large amount of waste from the Male' region is taken to Thilafushi. This waste is burned in an open field. There are no facilities to extinguish the fire".
Resorts and residents of islands in the vicinity of Thilafushi frequently voice complaints concerning fumes from the burning waste. Although waste burning was prohibited during the later years of the previous administration, such activities were resumed.
In response to a question posed by Machangoalhi South MP Ahmed Haitham over the matter, the minister stated that waste management was the most pressing environmental issue faced by Maldives, adding that it posed great threats to marine reef systems.
The minister further revealed that policies to permanently solve waste management difficulties in islands could be implemented in the upcoming year and were included in the budget.
Furthermore, he revealed that revenue received through Green Tax could be used to fund waste management polices if parliament approval was granted.