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Title: Environmental impact assessment for the proposed resort redevelopment project on K. Vilivaru, South Malé Atoll
Authors: Adam, M. S.
Keywords: Redevelopment projects
Resort development
Existing environment
Climate conditions
Marine environment
Terrestrial environment
Legislative and regulatory considerations
Construction impacts
Operational impacts
Socio-economic impacts
Mitigation measures
Environmental monitoring
Environmental impact assessment
Issue Date: May-2011
Citation: Adam, M. S. (2011). Environmental impact assessment for the proposed resort redevelopment project on K. Vilivaru, South Malé Atoll. Male': Maldives
Abstract: 1. This Environmental Impact Assessment report concerns the proposed redevelopment of Vilivaru Island, south Malé Atoll, to a premium 5-star plus resort. The purpose of this EIA is to fulfill the obligations of the proponent under Clause 5 of the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act (Law # 4/93) of the Maldives and the requirements of Maldives Tourism Regulation. This EIA establishes the current state of the existing environment on Vilivaru where the development takes place. All the activities of the development and operation are evaluated for their environmental impacts. Corrective and mitigation measures are proposed for reversing or improving the predicted potential impacts so as to maintain the overall quality of the environment. 2. Vilivaru is located in south Malé Atoll about 30 km from capital Malé. Closest islands are Biyaadhoo Resort, Cocoa Island Resort (Makunufushi), Kandooma Resort and the inhabited island of Guraidhoo. Vilivaru has been operating as resort since mid 1980s. On expiry of the lease period the island was put on tender in 2005 and was won by Mr. Athamaa Ibrahim Didi. Unfortunately the reclamations undertaken in 2006 as part the redevelopment plan was found to be illegal. A hefty fine was imposed on the developer/proponent and the authorities ordered the work be suspended. Since then the resort was left idle and abandoned. 3. The resort has now been bought by Parallax Venture Partners XV Ltd, an international firm based in Singapore, including the lease transfer from the previous owner. A major feature of the new redevelopment plan, proposed by the Parallax Venture Partners is re-shaping of the island including additional reclamation of about 35,000 m2 of the shallow reef flat on the west of the island. The new configuration of the island would cover the present disfigured shape. A visual feature of the new Vilivaru would be the two prominent headlands on the western side with long and wide beach in between. A total of 100 guest units have been proposed; 56 beach and 44 over-water villas. In addition specialty restaurants, bar and cafés gyms, swimming pool, meeting and banquet areas, and the usual back-of-the-house buildings are proposed. 4. Since the current concept plan does not intend to use any of the existing structures, a major first step would be the deconstruction of the existing buildings. Over 15 buildings need to be deconstructed and carefully disposed. It is proposed that the material will be transported to Thilafushi waste site. It is likely that the contractor may salvage some of the material that may be used for the construction of temporary structures for the work-force that needs to be deployed before the construction work begins. 5. A major development activity would be the proposed reclamation on the western side of the island. It is proposed that material would be borrowed from three sites clearly identified in the report. An excavator would remove material to 1 meter deep from the proposed areas to obtain about 125,000 m3 to be used for the reclamations and beach modification works. A series of options have been proposed to excavate the material. Where necessary it has been proposed dredging to take place with excavator mounted on flat-top barges and transport to the reclamation site. 6. The reclamation on the western side and the beach extension on the southern side would create considerable length of the beach around Vilivaru. Except for the existing seawall on the north eastern side beach areas would exist around the island. Proposal for shore protections are minimal. A rubble-mound revetment structures have been proposed on the headlands. Regular monitoring have been proposed that would allow proposing appropriate engineering solution to maintain the beaches if required. It is likely that regular nourishment of beaches would be required but the frequency and extent of these activities will precisely be known following the proposed monitoring activities. 7. Major project activities were assessed and evaluated for their impacts on the various characteristics of the environment in a Leopold Matrix framework. While the analysis does not provide an overall quantitative rating the Matrix portrays value judgments that help ascertain the magnitude and importance of the assumed impacts. On the 11 factors evaluated against 11 environmental characteristics significant impact causing activities were found to be dredging (for borrow material), reclamation (re-shaping the island) and construction activities (land and on water). These were found to be most influential and therefore appropriate mitigation measures and alternatives have been proposed. These activities were found to cause negative environmental impacts on lagoon, coral reef, coastal processes, and scenic views - essentially during the development phase. 8. For those major impacts, where possible, alternative and/or mitigation measures were proposed. The proponent is committed to taking responsibility on implementing them where practical. Alternatives have been proposed for dredging, reshaping the island, and borrow areas. 9. Environmental impacts relating to power generation and water production were emphasized as these require environmental compliance and for the new requirement of registration of these facilities at Maldives Energy Authority and Environmental Protection Agency respectively. 10. Aside from the re-shaping and increase in area of the island, the project activities are standard for any resort development in the Maldives. The contractor would be made responsible for the compliance and reporting required during the construction phase. 11. A monitoring programme has been proposed which include monitoring of shorelines, sand movement, coral cover, fish census and coastal processes. Reports are to be submitted as required during construction and operation phase. 12. Public consultations fared well for this project. The nearby resorts and particularly Guriadhoo community welcomed the redevelopment project after a long hiatus. Guraidhoo Council was very keen to interact with the proponent and/or management to see if a localization programme could be in place that would create job opportunities for locals.
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