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Title: Environment impact assessment for the proposed nationwide submarine cable by Ooredoo Maldives
Authors: CDE Consulting
Keywords: Submarine cable
Legislative and regulatory considerations
Existing physical environment
Existing beach environment
Existing marine environment
Existing terrestrial environment
Existing socio-economic environment
Environmental impacts
Mitigation measures
Environmental management plan
Environmental impact assessments
Issue Date: May-2016
Citation: CDE Consulting. (2016). Environment impact assessment for the proposed nationwide submarine cable by Ooredoo Maldives. Male': Maldives
Abstract: This document is submitted by the proponent to the Environmental Protection Agency to fulfil the requirement for an EIA under the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act (4/93). The EIA Regulation 2012 has been used as the basis for preparing this document. The proponent of this project is Ooredoo Maldives. The project involves laying a communication submarine cable stretching the entire archipelago of Maldives. The estimate length of the cable is 11,000 km, and is divided into 5 main segments with 6 landings sites. The main rationale for the project is to increase the capacity, and improve the quality of all telecommunication services provided by Ooredoo Maldives. The proponent estimates that they will not be able to cater for the growing demand for telecommunication services in a near future with the existing system. In each island a cable ship will lay the submarine cable and it will be passed to the reef flat using experienced divers and small boats. A concrete stabiliser clamped on reef flat will be used to pass the cable line from reef flat to a precast concrete trench on the seabed in each island. An existing trench will be used in B.Eydhafushi and Hulhumale’. Cable line will pass through the trench to Beach Manhole (BMH). In Gdh, Thinadhoo, geo-bags at beachfront will have to be cleared to facilitate the transfer of cable to BMH. MTCC has been contracted to clear the geobags and to build the precast concrete trench in Thinadhoo. Submarine cable will be connected to a land cable inside BMH and the land cable will then pass through an earth trench to Connecting Landing Station (CLS) in each island. The proposed development plans are generally in conformance to the laws and regulations of the Maldives. The key laws and regulations applicable are: Environmental Protection and Preservation Act, Maldives Telecommunication Act, Fisheries Act, Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation 2012, Waste Management Regulation 2013, The Environmental Liability Regulation, EIA decision note is required before implementation of this project. The cable landing sites for all the proposed islands are existing Ooredoo Antenna Stations and does not require the removal of any vegetation from these areas. The cable laying route (on land) up to the cable landing site in each of the islands follow an existing road or pathway from the beach with the exception of Hdh.Kulhudhuffushi and S.Hithadhoo. The reefs flat at all islands are mainly made up of rocky bottom, with low live coral coverage. Large seagrass patch occurs on the reef flat near shore along the cable route in Kolhufushi. Live coral abundance is higher mainly near the reef edge of all islands. Highest live coral coverage was recorded at Thinadhoo, while the lowest was recorded in Kulhudhuffushi. The most significant negative impacts from this project during construction stage would be, loss of sessile marine life within the cable route, and the potential health and safety risks to the workers and general public associated with offshore cable deployment, and excavation works on land. The project mainly has positive socio-economic benefits; via improvement in quality and speed of telecommunication service provided by Ooredoo Maldives across the Maldives. The key mitigation measures proposed for the construction stage include relocation of live coral colonies on the reef flat of project sites to nearby locations, and strict measures to minimize healthy and safety risks to workers and the general public from the project. Alternative options were evaluated for the activities that are identified to have significant impacts on the project. Alternative options have been considered for method of excavation on land. Main concern of the utility providers and telecommunication service providers in all the islands is potential damage to their existing infrastructure in the footprint of proposed land cable during excavation works. Manual excavation has been recommended over the use of an excavator to reduce the risk of damage to existing cables and pipelines. It has also been recommended to inform these institutions prior to commencing the earth trenching works. The Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for this project is designed to produce a framework for anticipated impacts, including practicable and achievable performance requirements and systems for monitoring, reporting and implementing corrective actions. In addition, provide evidence of compliance to legislation, policies, guidelines and requirements of relevant authorities. Monitoring plan is designed to assess any changes to the physical environment as well as operational aspects of the project. The total cost of mitigation and monitoring are estimated around US$ 4000 annually. The main conclusion of this report is to move forward with the proposed development after with the proposed alternatives and the suggested mitigation measures. Prepared
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