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Parliament launches inquiry into potential damages over Gulhifalhu reclamation

Ahmed Aiham
03 June 2020, MVT 11:39
Large plumes of sediment seen drifting towards Vilimale's South West coast, causing environmentalists and Maldives alike to raise concern over one of the last remaining natural habitats in the Greater Male' region.
Ahmed Aiham
03 June 2020, MVT 11:39

Parliament's Environment and Climate Change Committee on Tuesday, decided to probe into damages that may potentially be caused to the Vilimale' area, as a result of ongoing reclamation activities at neighbouring industrial island of Gulhifalhu, Kaafu Atoll.

According to the Committee, senior leadership of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Ministry of Environment will be summoned for its inquiry on Saturday.

Moreover, the committee will also summon representatives of the Ministry of Planning and Infrastructure and the consultants which conducted the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project.

In a letter addressed to the Parliament's Speaker Mohamed Nasheed, Villimale' MP Ahmed Usham, on Sunday, he brought the issue of severe sedimentation, which effectively blankets and smothers live coral, into the parliament's attention.

Local NGO Save The Beach Maldives also identified that mitigation measures such as silt nets to reduce sedimentation were not in place, in violation of the EIA.

EPA has maintained that no damages were caused as a result of the sedimentation. The agency is actively monitoring and assessing project outcomes.

Seeking to relocate the Male’ Commercial Port to Gulhifalhu, Maldives' 'Trade Facilitation and Transport network' involves the construction of multiple bridges to facilitate interconnectivity between the Greater Male’ region.

The network link, which costs a whopping USD 480,000, involves the building of bridges connecting capital city Male' to Villimale', then stretching on from Villimale' to Gulhifalhu, finally linking Gulhifalhu with Thilafushi.

Despite possessing knowledge of projects that may cause irreversible damage to a fragile environment, whilst the country faces negative impacts of global change, as well as the ability to assess economic impacts brought on by the pandemic, “Majlis is doing nothing to stop the major debt-funded projects continuing across the country at great speed”, said local advocacy collective 'Save Maldives'.

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