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Title: First environmental impact assessment addendum for the proposed reclamation of Himmafushi, Kaafu Atoll, Maldives : change of borrow area
Authors: Musthafa, Amir
Keywords: Land reclamation
Existing environment
Environmental impacts
Mitigation measures
Environmental monitoring
Environmental impact assessments
Issue Date: Jun-2016
Citation: Musthafa, A. (2016). First environmental impact assessment addendum for the proposed reclamation of Himmafushi, Kaafu Atoll, Maldives : change of borrow area. Male': Maldives
Abstract: This report is the Addendum to the EIA undertaken for the Proposed Reclamation of K. Himmafushi, Maldives. This addendum is based on the change of borrow area after the sand search campaign has been undertaken. An Environmental Impact Assessment was necessary for the works outlined in this report as they fall under the ‘Jadhuvalu R’ of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2012 of the Maldives. This report would further conform to the Dredging and Reclamation regulation. In addition to meeting the regulatory requirements, the report would further assist the proponent and important stakeholders to make decisions in an environmentally sound manner. Potential borrow areas in Kaafu Atoll was originally investigated and subsequently Ari Atoll area was also studied. The dredging location chosen is about 10 km west of the proposed borrow area 1, area 2, and area 3 given in the original EIA. The overall environmental impacts of the project have been assessed using frameworks found on literature and the results indicate that the proposed project has minimum negative impact and have an overall net positive outcome. The main environmental positive impacts due to this change comes from the fact that it is relatively closer to some resort islands and sensitive areas than the originally proposed areas. However, the dredging location is still over 500m away from any location of importance. Dredging activities will no doubt increase sedimentation impacts in the area, although lasting impacts are not envisaged. Bait fishing in the vicinity of the borrow area will have an impact for the duration of the project. There are no additional impacts due to reclamation as there is no change in scope with regards to this component. Furthermore, it is important to note that the approved dredge locations in the initial EIA were closer to the “Havza Thila” a popular diving spot. Important new stakeholders for the project include Atoll council, AA. Ukulhas council, AA. Mathiveri council and AA. Bodufulhadhoo council in addition to resort islands. The main reservations by the stakeholders is the fact that sand is borrowed from Ari Atoll for a reclamation in Kaafu atoll. All the stakeholders expressed their disapproval at this. Moreover, they expressed their concerns on the impact of dredging works on the fisheries and tourism of the Atoll. AA. Bodufulhadhoo council especially did note that the shallow reef North of the borrow area was used for bait fishing, and fishermen from Mathiveri and Bodufulhadhoo use the general area and channel for fishing. The stakeholders were informed of the previous islands reclaimed under the same project and how the impacts were minimal. Addendum to the EIA for the Reclamation of K. Himmafushi Alternative borrow area options are not viable as the sand search campaign concluded that there are no other significant sand depots within either North Male’ Atoll or North Ari Atoll. Alternative areas are those that have already been excluded. The only other viable alternative is to source sand from even further away, which was not feasible at all. Importing sand from abroad will be very costly and will have further negative impacts at the reclaim site. It is recommended to continue to monitor the impacts of the proposed project by regular monitoring of marine water quality. The monitoring plan proposed in the original EIA is slightly updated to include more monitoring locations, near borrow area. A two stage monitoring plan is given, which recommends quarterly monitoring during the 1st year and less frequent monitoring for the next 5 years. Undertaking the monitoring, along with the mitigation measures is necessary to ensure the sustainable development of the project with minimum harm to the environment. It is thus recommended that since the project has major socio-economic benefits and environmental benefits as detailed in the initial EIA, it is advisable to allow the project to proceed as proposed. Moreover, since the change in scope is relatively small, and since the initial EIA has been approved, and also considering the fact that the sand search campaign resulted in only one location within reasonable distance from Himmafushi to obtain sand, there is no viable reason to postpone or cancel the project due to this change. However, mitigation measures should be in place and continuous monitoring should be undertaken.
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