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Title: Proposed 5000 social housing units development project in Hulhumale’ phase II : environment impact assessment
Authors: Musthafa, Amir
Keywords: Existing environment
Legislative and regulatory considerations
Impacts and significance
Environmental management
Mitigation measures
Environmental monitoring plan
Issue Date: Jan-2018
Citation: Musthafa, A. (2018). Proposed 5000 social housing units development project in Hulhumale’ phase II : environment impact assessment. Male': Maldives
Abstract: This report is based on the proposed 5000 social housing units proposed for Hulhumale’ Phase II. 40 buildings in total will be built as part of the project, each 14 storeys high. The exact number of housing units to be developed as part of the project is 5040 units. The project is being developed by Housing Development Corporation (HDC), and constructed by China Nantong Sanjian Construction Group Co. Ltd, which will oversee the development and project management including managing the EIA process. An Environmental Impact Assessment was necessary for the works due to the large scale of the project with high rise buildings. In addition to meeting the regulatory requirements, the report would further assist the proponent and important stakeholders to make decisions based on favourable environmental conditions with the main focus on sustainability. The project also adheres to several other rules and regulations in the Maldives and has obtained permit from HDC to proceed. HDC is a 100% government entity, which also has the responsibility to set guidelines and oversee all developments in Hulhumale’. The project consists of the development of 1/3 of the larger program by HDC to establish 15,000 social housing units in Hulhumale’ within the next 2 – 3 years. Other similar EIAs have been done recently, most notably for the 7000 housing units project, 2500 housing unit project and 1394 housing unit project. Apartments in these buildings can generally be regarded as being targeted towards lower class members of the community, who cannot afford commercial housings. The project will contribute to the grand plan by the government of reducing congestion in Male’ by providing a large number of housing opportunities in Hulhumale’. By 2019, it is projected that the new housing units would accommodate approximately 80,000 people. Similar to the other building EIA’s in Phase II, the existing environment at the project site does not consist of any significant vegetation and the water test result shows normal water quality. There are no residents living in Phase II yet and there is no other structure at the site as well. However, there are other similar developments previously stated projects. Other development in the land include development of the 7000 housing units, shore protection and road construction, which is currently ongoing. During the construction stage, health and safety standards of the workers at site, and waste generation is the major areas of concern as is the case for similar developments. With proper planning and project management, this can be easily mitigated. Impacts on water quality due to dewatering as identified can be mitigated by dewatering inland. Waste is the main concern during the operational stage of the project, in addition to social issues. Since this will be developed as a condominium with multiple tenants owning the rights of the building, it has to be ensured that the tenants are held responsible to properly maintain the building. Impacts that may occur due to conflicts with other developments being undertaken simultaneously can be mitigated with proper communication and planning before project implementation. Long term social issues are envisaged due to a large population living in a concentrated area. Several social and legislative mitigation measures are proposed to counter this, including greater policing activities, larger public spaces, etc. Also concerns regarding fire safety exists. Proper fire safety measures are very important to be established as well as additional features such as sprinkler systems in each floor. In addition to fire safety, other impacts due to fuel storage at site and use and storage of chemicals are cause for concern. These can be mitigated by following the fuel and chemical storage standards and best practice methods. Regarding alternatives, there are no viable alternatives available for the project with respect to location, as the most suitable location had been predetermined during the planning stage. The no project option is also not plausible at this stage and possibilities are outside the scope of this study. Other alternatives including material, foundation type, construction methodology are not necessarily recommended. Recommendations had been made to proceed with the project as planned. It is recommended to dewater inland to an empty land close to the project site after excavating the area to ensure that water is contained in the allocated area, and will not have any negative impact on the groundwater aquifer. An environmental monitoring plan is proposed to be carried out with 2 phases; one for the construction stage, and one for 2 years post construction. Factors to investigate include surveying the amount of waste generation, noise pollution, traffic flow, health and safety at site and water quality. The project in general has minimum impact as it is being undertaken in newly developing land, similar to the other current developments in the area. All project specific building related impacts highlighted in the study, including those related for fire risks, health and safety, and fuel and chemical storage and use can be mitigated. The socio-economic benefits to Greater Male’ City from projects such as these is very high. The project would go a long way in providing much needed additional housing opportunities, which would contribute to alleviating the housing issues in Male’ City, and therefore mitigating the issues related to congestion. Thus, after consideration of all these perspectives, it is recommended that this project proceed as planned, after incorporating the mitigation measures given in this study with the commitment to implementing the monitoring plan given. Furthermore, proper planning and stronger legislation is required to ensure sustainability of all these new major condominium projects and to ensure maximum benefits are reaped from them. Building maintenance legislation needs to be strengthened to ensure such projects provide the maximum benefits to the community with minimum risks over a long period.
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