Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered to halt the land reclamation of Velifinolhu Island on Tuesday evening.
Veliffinolhu Island, in Alif Alif Atoll, is an artificially made island by Crown Company by reclaiming land as well. Velifinolhu Island is considered to be a part of Veligandu Island Resort, which is also by Crown Company.
The company decided to extend Velifinolhu Island by two hecters in order to build housing to accommodate the staff that works in the resort. A harbour area was to be built as well to solve issue of lack of sufficient port area the resort faces.
This land reclamation was being conducted with EPA's permission, after completing an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) as required. However, as this work was damaging the Madivaru reef, Rasdhoo Council, the businesses catering to tourists in Rasdhoo and the island people have been expressing concern over the matter. There has been protests against this project in Rasdhoo for the past several days as well.
In the announcement EPA made last night, the agency said the work should be halted to minimize the damages the nearby reefs were suffering due to this project.
When sand and other sediment pollute a reef, the corals tend to die in the area. The fishes in the area decrease along with its biodiversity.
The sand used in the reclamation project was taken from a protected area in Madivaru. Divers and guest house management in the area reports the project has already damaged the reef. Crown Company is also being accused of destroying a sandbank in the area to supply sand to for the reclamation of Velifinolhu Island.
EPA said the authorities will be looking into this matter.