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Title: Environment impact assessment for the proposed residential area and airport area reclamation project in Funadhoo, Shaviyani Atoll Atoll
Authors: CDE Consulting
Issue Date: 1-Mar-2017
Citation: CDE Consulting. (2017). Environment impact assessment for the proposed residential area and airport area reclamation project in Funadhoo, Shaviyani Atoll Atoll. Male': Maldives.
Abstract: The purpose of this document is to fulfil the requirements to get necessary environmental clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out the proposed airport and residential area reclamation in Funadhoo Island, Shaviyani atoll. The project is jointly proposed by Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure and Regional Airports Authority and, with each agency responsible for their respective components. Main rationale of the proposed project is to facilitate the overall development of the region and to cater to the existing and future land demands of Funadhoo. The Government of Maldives has continued to develop Shaviyani Funadhoo as a regional hub and a centre for population consolidation. The residential area reclamation project aims to cater for the increasing population of Sh. Funadhoo together with other communities willing to move to the Island. The aim of the airport reclamation project is to provide more convenient, safer and faster transportation to Shaviyani region and boost the socioeconomic development of the region through enhancement of tourism, commerce and trade operations. This EIA is concerned with the First Phase of the project, which only involves land reclamation and shore protection. Rest of the airport construction and housing development will be covered in separate EIAs. The proposed project has two main components: (i) dredging and reclamation of airport area and residential areas and; (ii) construction of shore protection around the reclaimed areas. The project originally proposed to reclaim 26.24 Ha on northwest lagoon for airport development and to reclaim a total area of 27.6 Ha at two sites (14 Ha on the northeast and 19.5 Ha southwest lagoon), for residential development. 4200 m of shore protection is also proposed. The master plan was evaluated under this EIA and suggestions were made to the Master plan. The proponent has agreed that the alternative master plan would be used. The revised design includes reclaiming 66.5 Ha of land and about 3500 m of shore protection. This EIA has limitations due to the limited detailed plans on the project. At present, the dredging technology, borrow sites and shore protection designs have not been finalised in detail. Therefore, these components have been evaluated based on existing concepts and design assumptions. There is a likelihood that these design parameters may change. An EIA Addendum will be required if the assumptions used in this EIA is changed. The proposed developments are generally in conformance to the Environmental laws and regulations of the Maldives and relevant international conventions that Maldives is party to. However, the Funadhoo eastern reclamation site is located within 150 m, in contravention to the 200 m distance between a sensitive area and reclamation site as recommended in the Dredging and Reclamation Regulation. The first amendment to the Dredging and Reclamation Regulation (2014/R-13) published on 9th February 2014 provides a provision for the Government to consider developments in such sites if it is deemed necessary for socio-economic development. Additional approvals are required before commencement of project activities are dredging and reclamation approval from EPA and additional EIA addendum once the borrow area details are identified. Funadhoo Island is a highly modified settlement. The existing environment has been affected due to human habitation and proposed developments reflect the ongoing need to keep modifying the environment. The key focus of this EIA to minimize damage to the Funadhoo wetland, Farukolhu wetland and the reef slope on the western side of Funadhoo. The assessment shows that the proposed developments involve significant positive and negative impacts on the marine, coastal, terrestrial and social environment. The main impacts on the marine environment are from dredging and reclamation and resulting turbidity and sedimentation. The project will alter hydrodynamics on the reef flat but is unlikely to change the patterns in the atoll lagoon. Dhaffalhu area, a key mangrove habitat, could be affected by turbidity and sedimentation. Funadhoo will lose most of its recreational beach. Reclaimed land will change the natural hazard zones on the island, particularly, rainfall flooding. The following key recommendations have been made in this EIA to mitigate major impacts: a. Deploy measures to reduce the impacts of turbidity and sedimentation on reef. These include the use of containment sand bunds and in sensitive areas, the used of additional turbidity curtain/groyne. b. No dredging work, including bund preparation works, should start without mitigation measures are in place around the sensitive sites. c. Relocate all movable live coral colonies in the impact footprint, including large colonies to the northern eastern reef edge of Farukolhu reef to the same depths. d. Conduct shore protection activities during daytime to minimize nuisance to humans and fauna. e. Incorporate flood mitigation plans and structures around the areas where the newly reclaimed areas meet the existing island. The impacts predicted could be minimized considerably with the proposed mitigation measures suggested in the report. Special attention needs to be paid during construction stage to minimise damage to the environment especially when outside contractors are in operation. It is important that proper monitoring be undertaken during construction stage to identify any unwarranted practices and activities. Key stakeholders consulted for this project are Funadhoo Island Council, public of Funadhoo Island including fishermen and businesses, Shaviyani Atoll Council, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Ministry of Environment and Energy (MEE). Majority of the stakeholders consulted from the island expressed strong support for the project and eagerness for a swift start to the project. Based on these discussions, recommendations were made to the proponent to alter the reclamation master plan. The proponent agrees to most changes, except when substantial costs are considered. The larger reclamation proposed by Funadhoo residents was not considered by the proponent due to potential budgetary constraints. A ‘No Project’ alternative was considered separately for the airport as well as the housing components. The ‘No Project’ alternative for the airport reclamation project was ruled out considering the importance of the project to the island and atoll public to improve its connectivity and achieve better economic growth. Similarly, this option was ruled out for housing component due to the land shortage and increasing housing demand in Funadhoo. Alternative reclamation plans were proposed to address the limitations in the reclamation master plan. It is recommended for the proponent to choose between the two alternative reclamation options based on cost limitations. Alternatives were also evaluated for dredging technology, borrow areas, and sediment containment measures. Monitoring of the project is crucial particularly the changes to hydrodynamics, shoreline, water quality, coral reef recovery and lagoon benthos recovery. Particular attention should be given to monitor beach erosion and changes to the island shoreline and to monitor impacts on Dhaffalhu Mangrove area. This project is unique in that the burden of monitoring will be shared by the proponents. Monitoring and mitigation responsibilities of each proponent need to be identified and the proponents shall each provide commitment to monitoring and mitigation for their respective components. Overall, the proposed project will have significant positive socio-economic impacts on Funadhoo Island and Shaviyani Atoll by facilitating the overall convenience and development of the region and by catering for the current and future land demands of Funadhoo. The findings of this EIA are that if the proposed project activities proceeds as described and in accordance with the recommendations outlined in this report, it will limit significant adverse environmental impacts. This EIA provides the necessary environmental evaluations based on the concept plan. It allows the project to proceed into detailed planning and contracting. However, an EIA Addendum is required once a dredging technology is confirmed and once more details on borrow areas and shore protection plans are confirmed.
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