Environment Impact Assessment for Addu land reclamation project submitted to EPA

Illustration of the plan for rerouted link road and Hankede island | Photo: Abdulla Sodiq (Sobe)

Addu City, Maldives – Environmental consultancy firm Water Solutions Pvt Ltd on Monday completed and submitted the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for Addu land reclamation project to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

While majority are in favour of the project for the socioeconomic benefits, environment experts are raising alarms about the Addu land reclamation since the dredging site covers 42 percent of the lagoon of the atoll. The current plans include removing 6.9 million cubic meters of sand from the lagoon.

Experts express concerns about the negative implications of the resulting sedimentation, the death of coral reefs and the destruction of the entire ecosystem.

Addu Atoll was designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2020. Ecosystems found in this biosphere reserve including seagrass and mangroves function as carbon sinks and combat the effects of global climate change.

The USD 147.1 million project to develop the roads of Addu city and reclamation of 228 hectares of land was contracted to Afcons Infrastructure Limited of India.

Under the one-off land reclamation and shore protection project is proposed to create a land area of approximately 228 hectares. The proposed reclamation for purposes of residential, commercial, and industrial development is estimated for Hithadhoo, Hulhudhoo/Meedhoo (38 hectares including two island resorts of 5 hectares each), and Maradhoo/Maradhoo-Feydhoo (75 hectares).

According to the High Commission of India, the zoning plans for these reclamation projects would facilitate the upgrading of existing harbour front facilities, allocation of land for trade and social uses, as well as residential needs of these communities. Further, lagoons will be reclaimed to form islands within the scope of this project and the private sectors would be invited to develop resorts on the newly reclaimed areas. Land reclamation and shore protection of an estimated 25 hectares have also been proposed to attract potential investors to develop 4-star “Lagoon Resorts” in the region.

The reclamation project is being carried out under the line of credit provided by EXIM Bank of India.