|Abstract: ||This report addresses the environmental concerns of the proposed harbour development in Kudafari, Noonu Atoll. The primary objective of the project is to provide safe and adequate access to the island. As such the project encompasses partial dredging of an existing channel and basin, construction of quaywall and breakwaters and the reclamation of a boat beaching area on the southern end of the proposed harbour. The proposed harbour is located on eastern side in the same location as the existing multi-purpose jetty leading to a dredged basin. The jetty is weak and needs to be replaced. The proposed harbour project falls within the Access Improvement Programme, the size of harbours under the programme being 200ft x 300ft. However, on request from the island community, who wants to have a 600ft long quaywall, a 465ft quaywall has been proposed.
Since there is a dredged basin already in the proposed location, it was decided that the proposed location would be better suited based on recommendations of the Harbour Committee as well as other key members who met the Proponent and Contractor separately. It would also be less costly, therefore, would allow changes to the size of the harbour, which is one of the main requirements of the community. It was also believed that the proposed location has already been subject to the impacts of dredging and reclamation, therefore, further cumulative impacts to this area would be preferable to impacts on new areas in their natural state. However, it was identified from the environmental surveys that the reef was most live at the proposed location where previous dredging had occurred. The live coral in this area, close to the entrance channel, represents 49% compared to 17% on the west and 3% on the north-northwest side of the island. Based on this finding it is believed that this area need not necessarily be considered for the proposed harbour on the assumption that damage has already occurred to the environment in this area. There is also a great surf break in this area, which happens to be the starting point for surfing in the Maldives. However, the development of the harbour is not expected to have impacts on the surf break whereas the harbour could be designed in such a way that easy access to the surf break can be provided. The main reason for the proposed harbour to be located in the same location as the existing jetty is its closeness to the primary institutions such as the island office as well as the residential areas. This area is regarded as the face of the island. Yet, this area is also the lee of the island during the southwest monsoon with sand accumulating in the area. Therefore, a harbour here will have to be carefully designed to minimize any salient formation that would cause erosion around the island. This has been evident in the recent years following the dredging of the basin here with sand from elsewhere being deposited in the basin.
To combat such severe erosion and loss of beach from such a beautiful island, it would be necessary to think of an alternative location that would have less impact on the sand transport around the island. That would be the north and south sides of the island. Given that the south side would be generally calmer than the north side, the south-southwest side of the island was considered to be the ideal location to address this issue. Some elderly respondents from the island also felt that the alternative south-southwest location would be better than the proposed location to address erosion issues and for providing access in a cost-effective manner. Environmental Protection Agency also identified in the scoping meeting that the south-southwest would generally be the most favourable location for a harbour. However, in the case of Kudafari, damage has already occurred elsewhere. Therefore, location has to be carefully chosen after evaluating the socio-economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the project.
The overall environmental impacts of the project have been assessed using appropriate matrices and the results indicated that the proposed project had net positive impact. Given that the project has major socio-economic benefits although there would be some negative environmental impacts, it is recommended to allow the project to proceed as proposed. However, alternative analysis indicates that there is a strong argument for protecting the beaches and minimizing impact on the littoral transport regime. Therefore, a satellite harbour with detached quaway at the breakwater side providing access from a piled concrete jetty was considered as the recommended alternative. This design is considered to be suitable for both the proposed and the recommended alternative locations, which are the eastern side and south-southwestern side respectively.
Environmental monitoring recommended for the project includes the monitoring of the shorelines of Kudafari, water quality and drogue studies of the coastal area for at least two years from the onset of the proposed project implementation. Monitoring is also expected to cover public views and grievances about the project and guture harbour management information such as nos. of vessels that use the harbour. Annual monitoring reports have to be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency over the monitoring period.|