Ameenee Magu trees: Nasheed’s injunction request quashed

Trees planted in Ameenee Magu being cut down for the road's development | Photo: Mihaaru

Malé, Maldives – Civil Court of Maldives has denied Speaker of Parliament and former President, Mohamed Nasheed’s injunction request to stop the removal of trees from Ameenee Magu.

Nasheed, who is being represented by Shunana & Co.LLP, argued that other avenues were not explored before starting to remove the trees and that while it would be possible to develop the road around the trees, removing them goes against the country’s constitution and international treaties the country is party to.

Shunana also argued that if a temporary order is not granted, the purpose of the lawsuit would be moot, as the trees may completely be removed by the time a final verdict is declared.

However, Civil Court judge Mariyam Waheedha ruled that Speaker Nasheed did not have any legal authority to be granted such an injunction under the law and that the case did not meet the legal requirements for the oder to be granted.

RDC had argued during the initial hearing that the issuing of a temporary order would cause the company to incur financial losses as the work is being carried out with various parties under contract, utilizing equipment which have been paid for, for a certain period of time. In detail, they revealed that the loss would go beyond MVR 100,000 per day.

Some of the points highlighted in the case filed by Speaker Nasheed are;

  • EIA report does not clarify the environmental impacts of removing the 147 trees including the level of air pollution it would cause, level of impact due to climate change, clear mitigation methodologies of the environmental impacts and the impact to the people.
  • New plants to be imported from India to be planted later which might lead to new species and pests to be introduced which might affect the terrestrial biodiversity.
  • Additional threat to achieving the goal of lowering Greenhouse gases (GhG) emissions by 26% by 2030 as per the proposal made by Maldives to UNFCCC. 
  • EIA recommends to pave the road with paver blocks, not asphalt or concrete. Paving roads with asphalt without any mature trees would lead to cause more heat absorption in an equatorial country like Maldives and asphalt is not a sustainable option for paving as per the EIA. 
  • Protecting trees if one of the strongest actions against the global climate crisis. 
  • Large and mature trees root system strengthen the soil and canopies lower the risk of flooding as per research. 

The filing also pointed out that Maldives announced a Climate Emergency Declaration in 2020 and is a member of the Paris Agreement and that necessary research must be carried out to study the impacts of moving large mature trees from one location to the other followed by appropriate actions and if not, that the country was going against the Paris Agreement.

The roadside trees on Ameenee Magu are currently being removed to make way for the ongoing redevelopment of the road using asphalt, which is worth MVR 84 million and commenced on August 30, 2022 by Road Development Corporation (RDC).

The project which has high expectations from the public towards it met with heavy criticism after RDC started removing the trees shortly after work commenced. 

Following the public outrage of cutting down the trees in Ameenee Magu, President’s Office told local media that he removal of trees is necessary for the development of Ameenee Magu, as the roots of the trees hinder pipe and cable placement.

Highlighting the importance of continuing the project without hindrance as the current condition of the road disrupts traffic and pedestrians, government Spokesperson Mohamed Miuvan justified the removal stating that the plants in Ameenee Magu are different from trees that are typically planted roadside.