|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 Hoarafushi in Ha Atoll.
Hoarafushi 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, Transport and Environment. The project was bided as a design and consultancy project. The main design consulting company Alhabshi 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 Hoarafushi harbor. During the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Hoarafushi harbor facility received extensive damages. These include damage to harbor protection walls, side walls and quay walls. Under the proposed project, new quay wall (concrete sheet piles, L section) and breakwaters (armor rocks) will be constructed at the existing foot prints. The harbor basin will also undergo maintenance dredging to -3MSL. Since the proposed project is only a restoration project, size of the harbor basin 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.
Hoarafushi (06° 58' 53" N and 72° 53' 48" E) is located on the west side of Ihavandhippolhu atoll, 318 km from Male’. It is approximately 27km from Dhidhdhoo which is the capital of Ha Alifu Atoll (northern most atoll in Upper North province. The existing harbor basin and facility is located at the eastern side of the island facing Ihavandhippolhu atoll basin. The project boundaries are the harbor front area, either side breakwaters, eastern side seawall and breakwater section at the harbor entrance channel. Under the proposed project maintenance dredging will be done at the basin and entrance area where necessary and this activity will generate sediment plumes east and north eastwards. Dredged material removed during the maintenance dredging works will be disposed at the western side of the island where a bay shape area is observed (surplus after reuse during reconstruction work).
The existing harbor footprint will not be changed due to the proposed project, breakwaters and quay wall will be constructed at existing foot print area (apart from small section of breakwater at the western side of the harbor). Therefore the existing design of the harbor will remain as it is. The length of the harbor after completion of renovation works will be 361m and width of 88m. The length of entrance channel is approximately 150m, while width is 30m. The harbor basin will have a depth of -3MSL after completion of the restoration works.
The harbor will have a total length of 523m (including side quay walls) of quay walls and 324m of rubble mound breakwater. The rubble mound breakwater will be constructed of demolished material from existing breakwaters while the main breakwaters will be of armored rocks. A small section of existing revetment wall will be retained at the eastern side of the harbor which is in good condition.
Dredge material removed from the harbor basin (maintenance dredging works) 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 breakwaters and side quays. Part of the sediment will also be used to level the harbor front area here a large scour pit is observed. Approximately 22000m3 of sediment will be excavated from deepening of harbor basin. A fair proportion of this sediment would be used for several aspects of harbor repair and construction work while any remains will be disposed at the erosion prone areas at the eastern side of the island. The sediment will be transported to the disposal sites on trucks, although initially sediment will be stockpiled near harbor area for construction purposes
Existing environment was examined to identify significant environmental components that would be affected and to establish a baseline condition of the site. Available and relevant literature on environmental impacts associated with similar projects was evaluated to identify possible impacts. Oceanographic data and information on local hydrodynamics were qualitatively assessed to determine the current pattern around the island which was based on monsoonal wind patterns, wind generated waves, tidal flushing, geographic setting, the topography of the lagoon and shape of the shoreline.
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. The existing damaged breakwaters will act as bunds therefore limiting the spread of sediment fines.
Since the proposed project is restoration project, environmental impacts associated with the proposed project are considered minor to moderate. The significant environmental components that are likely to be affected are the coral community established on the reef flat and changes due to maintenance dredging works.
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, live coral cover and shoreline is not known. Even though the project is not envisaged to cause impacts of shoreline (since construction will be done at existing footprint), it is important to monitor shoreline changes.
The IDC and harbor committee stated that the size of harbor has to be increased due to increase of vessels and size of vessels. Since the project is a restoration project funded by a loan the scope of work is limited. Although the community stressed the issue of harbor expansion the community was in consent to the proposed project. The existing harbor facility was badly damaged during the 2004 tsunami and is in urgent need of repairs.
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 more functional harbor.|