|Abstract: ||This Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report is to fulfill the regulatory requirements under the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act of Maldives prior to the proposed harbor restoration at Dharavandhoo in Baa Atoll.
Dharavandhoo harbor restoration project is part of the Construction of Harbors for Tsunami Victims Project. This restoration project involves repair of harbors at 10 islands. The project is funded by a joint loan taken from Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the Saudi Government and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) by the government of Maldives. The design consultancy was awarded to Alhabshi Consultants Office, a Kuwaiti Company in association with Riyan Pvt Ltd (a Maldivian company). The Agreement for consultancy was signed on 6th November 2008 between the Government of Maldives and Alhabshi Consultant.
Project proponent of the proposed harbor restoration project is Ministry of Housing and Environment. The project was bided as a design and consultancy project. The main design consulting company Alhabhsi Consultants is assigned to carry out the design works, preparing tender documents, carrying out EIAs and construction phase supervision consultant.
The proposed development project involves renovation and restoration of Dharavandhoo harbor. During the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Dharavandhoo harbor facility received extensive damages. These include damage to harbor quay walls and basin. Under the proposed project, new quay wall (concrete sheet piles, L section) and side quay walls will be constructed. The harbor basin and entrance channel will also undergo maintenance dredging to -3MSL. Since the proposed project is only a restoration project, basin size will not be increased. The concept plan is formulated in light of the new third generation harbor concept which is focused at functionality of the harbor. In this regard harbor usage components such as passenger embarking/disembarking, loading unloading area, fish landing, water and fuel recharging and mooring area will be demarcated.
The island of Dharavandhoo lies at the eastern side of the South Maalhosmadulu atoll (Baa atoll) approximately 115km north west of Capital city Male. Measuring 1.3 km in length and around 0.5 km in width, the island covers an area of 0.53 km2, the island is oriented north west to south east. The island is located at 05° 09' 28" N and 73° 07' 49" E. The reef system hosting the island is narrow on the western side while is wider at the eastern side. The lagoon is narrow at the western side while eastern side has wide reef flat (ocean wards side).
The existing harbor facility is located at the north eastern side of the island facing the northern quadrant. The site boundaries are harbor area and entrance channel area. The harbor facility will undergo maintenance dredging and construction of new quay wall. The existing harbor footprint will not be changed due to the proposed project and side quay wall will be constructed at existing foot print. Therefore the existing design of the harbor will remain as it is. The length of the harbor after completion of renovation works will be 174.6 and width 99.2m. The existing entrance will be used after maintenance dredging. The length of entrance channel is approximately 22m, while width is 20m. The harbor basin and entrance channel will have a depth of -3MSL after completion of the restoration works.
The side quays will have a total length of 167m of type 2 design quay wall, while the main quay will have a length of 174.6m. 30m section of existing side quay wall at the western side, oriented north westwards will be repaired using sand cement bags.
Dredge material removed from the harbor basin (maintenance dredging works) and entrance will be initially stockpiled near harbor area since part of the material will be required during construction works. Part of the sediment will be used for back filling the area in between the existing quay wall and new quay wall and for filling the geo textile bags of side quays. Approximately 6,000m3 (filling area in between new and old quay wall and filling geo-textile bags of main quay wall and side quay walls) of sediment will be used of the construction work while rest will be stock piled for airport development works proposed at Dharavandhoo The sediment will be stockpiled near the reclaimed area. Approximately 10,000m3 of dredge material will be removed from the harbor basin and entrance channel. Part of the material will be disposed either side of the harbor (side quay areas, reclaimed areas where at present sediment is washed away at the sides due to damage to quays). Approximately 4000m3 of material will be disposed at this area.
Due to wave condition at northern side of reef during the field visit, reef survey was done at the eastern side of the island at the back reef area. Live coral at the area was dominated by acroporids, while live coral cover was approximately 20%.
It is important to note that the most significant impact associated with the project would be impact on the marine environment from sedimentation. Dredging and excavation often carry a heavy load of sediments increasing sediment load in the water column causing discoloration due to suspended sediments of the impact area for a prolonged period. Since the project is a restoration project, the extent of sediment plum will be limited at the harbor basin area; the existing breakwater will act as a bund reducing spread of sediment plume.
Since the proposed project is restoration project, environmental impacts associated with the proposed project are considered minor to moderate.
Mitigation measures are provided in the report for impacts that were categorized minor to moderate. Impact mitigation measures and monitoring is carried out to compare predicted and actual impacts occurring from project activities to determine the efficiency of the mitigation measures. It has to be noted that environmental monitoring has not been done since the completion of harbor, and extent of changes to habitat and live coral cover is not recorded. Also it has to be noted that extent of impacts due to future projects (airport development project which involves reclamation of land) will also cause significant impacts to reef habitat. Even though the project is not envisaged to cause impacts on shoreline (since construction will be done at existing footprint), it is important to monitor shoreline changes.
The main issue raised in the consultation meeting at Dharavandhoo by the IDC was the issue of western side quay wall, since harbor expansion is proposed along with airport development.
With due consideration to main environmental components identified and the magnitude of impacts on these components from the proposed developments, the consultant concludes that the project components and designs are feasible and appropriate mitigation measures are given to correct and minimize unfavorable environmental consequences. Furthermore, the public and community consultation responses were in favor of the project due to the socio-economic benefits foreseen to the community from a functional harbor.|