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15 percent of reclaimed Gulhifalhu land allocated for housing: Parliament

Mariyam Malsa
01 July 2020, MVT 13:20
An aerial photograph showing residential island Viliale' (L) and Gulhifalhu.
Mariyam Malsa
01 July 2020, MVT 13:20

The Parliament, on Tuesday, passed the decision to allocate 15 percent of land reclaimed in Gulhifalhu, Kaafu Atoll for housing purposes.

Unanimously approved by vote among 65 participating MPs, the allocation was included as a recommendation in the report compiled by the parliamentary Committee on Environment and Climate Change.

The committee decided to investigate the potential environmental impacts of the Gulhifalhu reclamation project on June 2 following considerable expressions of concern by the public.

Acknowledging significant environmental repercussions, the report highlighted the necessity of increasing the project's socio-economic outcomes. The 15 percent allocation for housing was subsequently proposed as a measure to tackle congestion and housing shortages in the capital city of Male'.

According to the report, enough space to establish 6,000 units will be earmarked for social housing from the portion of reclaimed land set aside for housing purposes.

The government revealed its decision to move ahead with the reclamation of 30 hectares of land in Gulhifalhu on May 6 despite warnings from local NGOs, environmental movements and conservationists that the project could cause irreversible damage to a fragile marine environment.

Awarded to Dutch dredging company Boskalis Westminster Contracting Ltd without the mandated bidding process, the Gulhifalhu reclamation project intends to facilitate the relocation of the Male’ Commercial Port to the industrial island, as well as create accommodation for 40,000 expatriates.

On June 5, Local environmental campaign ‘Save Maldives’ called on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and the government to "stop the Gulhifalhu ecocide" and "re-think unsustainable, debt-funded development projects" to protect the environment and biodiversity of Maldives.

"The project will irreversibly destroy the Gulhifalhu reef ecosystem, directly impacting an area of over 13 sq/km", said Save Maldives.

Concerns have also been raised over the living conditions of expatriates and locals alike to be housed on the island. Each year, during the Southwest monsoon 'Hulhangu', toxic fumes from the nearby garbage island Thilafushi engulf the islands of Gulhifalhu, Vilimale' and Male'.

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