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Title: Environmental impact assessment proposed MEQ boatyard development project Himmafushi Island, K. Atoll
Authors: Zuhair, Mohamed
Keywords: Legal policy and administrative framework
Project description
Existing environment
Environmental impacts
Mitigation measures
Stakeholder consultation
Environmental monitoring
Issue Date: Nov-2017
Citation: Zuhair, M. (2017). Environmental impact assessment proposed MEQ boatyard development project Himmafushi Island, K. Atoll. Male': Maldives
Abstract: i. The proponent of the project, MEQ Boatyard Pvt. Ltd. proposes to develop a full fledge boatyard with all facilities at the existing boatyard found in Himmafushi Island, Kaafu Atoll. The existing boatyard has been leasedާby Himmafushi Island Council to MEQ Boatyard Pvt. Ltd. for a period of 25 years in 2016. ii. The scope of the project is to reclaim existing waterway having 1.1ha from fill material obtained from the lagoon, develop support infrastructures such as boat building factory, workshops, slipway, and boat lifting facility, staff accommodation and office building and develop support services including powerhouse, RO plant, compressor room, fuel and water storages. iii. Under the Maldives Environmental Protection and Preservation Act (Law No. 4/93) and EIA Regulation 2012, the proposed boatyard development project requires an EIA to be carried out and approved from EPA prior to commencement of work. The report presents major findings of the EIA report. iv. This EIA is prepared as per the Terms of Reference (TOR) approved by Environment Protection Agency (EPA) on 3 August 2017. v. The scope of this EIA is to assess the existing environmental condition of the project site in Himmafushi Island and surrounding environment, identify potential environmental impacts, propose environmental management and mitigation measures to minimize environmental impacts as well as propose an environmental monitoring plan with appropriate environmental parameters to monitor changes due to the project on a regular basis. vi. The proposed boatyard is located on the south-western side of Himmafushi Island at 4°18'27.71"N / 73°34'4.95"E. The southern part of the island has been allocated for light industrial developments as per the land use plan of the island. The existing land area of the boatyard is 230,000ft2. vii. Himmafushi island is an inhabited island with a population of over 1,700 having an area of 42ha found in a relatively large reef having an approximate length of 4.3km located on the eastern periphery of North Male’ Atoll. About 21ha of land has been reclaimed in 2016 making the total land area of the island 63ha. Two other islands are found within the same reef. They are Paradise Island Resort located at 2.2km south and Gili Lankanfushi Resort located 1km south of Himmafushi island. viii. There are two Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) vicinity of the project location. Thamburudhoo Thila MPA is located close to the project site at distance of 1.8km NE and Lankan Thila MPA is located 4.2km SW. There are two Sensitive Sites (SSs) within the vicinity of the project site too, they are Huraagandu SS located at a distance of 4.1km north and Okebe Thila SS located at a distance of 6km SW. ix. Two locations from the reef was assessed to understand existing condition. The coral reef assessments indicate that out of the two sites, the highest live coral cover recorded was from Reef 1 located on the western outer reef having a live coral cover of 8%. The main live coral cover type consisted of Porites and other massive coral varieties. Impacts of coral bleaching of 2016 is evident from the reef. Reef 2 site located on the inner reef on the western side had only 1% live coral cover and predominantly covered with dead coral, rubble and sand. Since an access channel and other areas have been previously dredged close to Reef 2 site, large number of corals were observed to be dead. x. A detailed lagoon bathymetry was undertaken from the proposed project area in order to understand the average depths of the lagoon in relation to MSL. The depth of the existing waterway ranges between -3.6m to -0.4m MSL. The existing waterway will be reclaimed as part of the project. The lagoon outside of the waterway boundary has depths ranging -4m and deeper into the existing deep inner lagoon having -6m MSL. xi. Currents recorded from the lagoon by the project site were relatively low having 0.13m/s (Drogue 1) and 0.08m/s (Drogue 2). Relatively low current flow in the area is believed to be due to presence of an outer reef that reduces incoming currents into the inner deep lagoon area. xii. Impact analysis indicates that most of the environmental impacts occur during construction are of short-term and during operation are of long-term in nature. Impacts such as dredging and land reclamation proposed as part of the project have moderate impacts. Since there is no major requirement for site clearance, its impacts have been identified to be negligible. Although some machinery will be used during construction, their impacts have been identified to be minor mostly related to noise and dust during operations. During operation phase, most of the impacts have been identified to be moderate including activities related to boatyard operations as well as impacts related to solid waste and hazardous waste. A notable social impact has been identified to be moderate due to health risks associated with the operations including contact with dust, chemicals and hazardous substances. xiii. Environmental mitigation measures have been identified for all environmental impacts that may be generated as part of the proposed project. Additionally Boatyard Management Best Practices outline key measures for protecting environment and human health from the project. xiv. Although there are a number of environmental impacts from the proposed development, most of these impacts can be reduced and mitigated by use of appropriate methodology. The effectiveness of these methodologies can be documented by implementing a comprehensive monitoring programme. Also, with positive social and economic outlook of the project and considering the overall need of the project to region, it is concluded that the project could be undertaken.
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