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Title: Environmental impact assessment for the harbour development at Omadhoo, Thaa Atoll, Maldives
Authors: Water Solutions
Keywords: Harbor development projects
Legislative and regulatory considerations
Existing marine environment
Existing coastal environment
Environmental impacts
Constructional impacts
Mitigation measures
Environmental management and monitoring
Environmental impact assessments
Issue Date: Mar-2016
Citation: Water solutions. (2016). Environmental impact assessment for the harbour development at Omadhoo, Thaa Atoll, Maldives. Male': Maldives
Abstract: This report discusses the findings of environmental impact study undertaken by Water Solutions Pvt. Ltd. upon request from Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure for the proposed harbour development project in Th. Omadhoo. Th. Omadhoo is located on the southern rim of Thaa atoll and has a population of 456. Majority of the island community depend on fishing as their main economic activity. Until now, the island has no harbour facility and is one of the most crucial issues faced by the island community. This project is initiated by the government as part of its national programme to provide safe harbour to each and every inhabited island of Maldives. Presently, lack of a harbour is an obstacle for the economic expansion and diversification of the island. Lack of a harbour in Omadhoo has many developmental obstacles for the island. At present the only way to access the island is by means of a damaged jetty on the north side of the island. For mooring the vessels, fisherman and other vessel owners use deep lagoons within the island reef system. In rough weather, getting in out of the island is almost impossible. Some of the vessels have to go to a nearby harbour for mooring in unfavourable weathers. This is the dilemma the islanders have faced until now. The construction of the harbour at Th. Omadhoo includes construction of a quay wall on inner side and both ends of the harbour using T-shaped concrete blocks, deepening the harbour basin to 3 meters at mean sea level, dredging of the harbour basin which is 500 feet long and 250 feet wide, construction of 563 feet long breakwater with rock boulders, reclamation of the area between the harbour and shoreline by using dredged material from the harbour basin, reclamation of area east of harbour, dredging of an access channel to a depth of 3 meters at Mean Sea Level (MSL). The dredging work for the project is expected to generate around 28,462 m3 of dredged material. The dredged material will be used for reclamation purpose. A 563 ft long seawall would be constructed on western side of the area which would be reclaimed between harbour and the island to protect the reclaimed area from erosion. The project also include construction of 146 ft seawall at the area which is presently used to access the island. The proposed project is therefore geared towards developing a third generation harbour on the north side of the island with an entrance channel and breakwaters to protect the harbour basin. Since, the harbour is proposed to be constructed on the lagoon, the area between the harbour and island shoreline will be reclaimed using the dredged material from harbour basin. The harbour is expected to ease many of the challenges faced by the islanders, especially for the vessel owners, as safe mooring will be guaranteed. A detail environmental assessment was undertaken for this project and the findings are reported in this EIA. This EIA has been prepared to assess the social and environmental impacts of this proposed project. As this is a completely new development, significant negative impacts on the island marine environment will be felt through permanent habitat modification and direct destruction of the marine environment. Similarly, the coral reef will be directly and indirectly impacted for this project. As the same time, the socio-economic impacts of this project will be significantly felt on a very large scale and not necessarily for the islanders only. In such projects, environmental damage cannot be avoided and hence the goal should be to undertake the works in a least damaging manner. As a large area of the marine and coastal environment will be affected, careful implementation of the mitigation measures and adopting methods which minimizes the damage will be the key for this project. Most of these measures are the best practice guidelines and protocols that does not require sting financially to implement. Stakeholder consultations were held with various groups including island council, island community, Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure and Ministry of Environment and Energy in order to incorporate the socio-economic components in the project. Stakeholders, most importantly the island community representatives were most significant as they have the maximum knowledge and experience from the daily difficulties faced due to lack of a harbour. Alternative locations and alternative designs have been investigated for the harbour development. The development of the harbour in Omadhoo will have significant environmental impacts to the island, most of which will be felt on the coastal and the marine environment. The project takes place in an environment that has not been modified or damaged previously. However, natural erosion of the island has been affected to the southern area of the island. The biggest threat to the islands when a harbour is developed is the disruption it causes to natural movement of the beach. Social impacts of this project will be significant and will benefit the community as well as the region. The development of a harbour in Omadhoo is expected to bring many beneficiaries to island community. Although the project involves inevitable negative impacts, the project is justifiable in light of the socioeconomic conditions and anticipated benefits resulting from this project. Therefore, it is justifiable to undertake the project.
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