|Abstract: ||This is the first Addendum to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the west harbour project in Villimale’, Kaafu Atoll. The project is proposed by Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure. A Scoping Meeting for EIA addendum was held on 13 July 2017, following the addendum application where main issues related to the proposed change were discussed. This EIA addendum report aims to assess the issues highlighted in Terms of Reference (ToR) agreed between EPA and proponent. Furthermore it is to fulfil the requirement of the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act of the Maldives (Law No. 4/93). Construction of K.Villimale’ West Harbour was contracted with MTCC on 19th May 2015, whereas an environmental assessment was undertaken for this project on November 2015 by MEECO. Construction phase of the project was commenced during November 2016 during the extended period of EIA DS, but it was halted within few days to bring changes to the concept. According to the EIA, condition of the existing harbour has been deteriorated over the years with the existing sand-cement breakwater fallen apart providing no wave protection from the west side. In addition to being used as a harbouring area, west harbour in Villimale’ also serves as a boat beaching and maintenance area. On top of these issues, the project aims to provide a proper landing craft (LC) loading area for waste transportation between Villimale’ and Thilafushi as the island has never had such an area before. Initially waste loading was carried out from a temporary ramp located on the west side of the island near the waste disposal area. The ramp was open to the sea on the west with no protecting seawall or reakwater. Similarly, current ramp used by LC is a temporary rock boulder bed shaped in the form of a ramp which is located at the southern end of the west harbour old breakwater. The area still phase the issues of being open to the predominant wave direction during the southwest monsoon. Considering the issues, Vilimale’ is in urgent need of a south west harbour reconstruction accommodating a better and feasible ramp for LC operation. In the initial harbour concept, LC loading ramp was proposed to be constructed at the southern end of the harbour in such a way that it can be accessed from within the harbour. Consequently, operating LCs would be subjected to move back and forth along a length of about 100m (total length of the harbour and channel) which is a risky task given the size of the landing craft and the anchoring vessels. Maneuvering a LC within the harbour may not be practical as the harbour width is 21m and clearance from all sides may not be available at all times of operation. LCs operated by WAMCO for waste transportation measures around 35m by 10m in size. At present, LC operates to Villamle’ around 2-3 days a week. However, WAMCO is planning to continue operation every day to cater the increasing amount of waste from Villimale’. To continue the operation smoothly on a regular basis without obstruction, a proper loading area with suitable anchoring facilities are needed.
Therefore, an amendment to the initial concept has been proposed to dredge a new channel from the south end of the harbour, opening to west which will mostly be used by the LCs in waste transportation between Villimale and Thilafushi. The channel measures 34m by 16m in dimension with its south side proposed to be protected by concrete T-units. A concrete ramp measuring 16m by 12m will be constructed on the eastern side of the channel. The ramp will be reoriented to face the newly proposed channel. This is a much needed amendment as the initial location of the ramp is not feasible for LC operation. Though the channel will be open to the western sea, ramp area will provide proper anchoring facilities with a quay-wall to anchor alongside. In the EIA report the consultant has recommended to consider including culverts in the breakwater to enhance water circulation to prevent water stagnation within the harbour basin. But the newly proposed channel will ensure proper water circulation within the harbour alleviating the need for culverts. This addendum addresses the mentioned modifications to the harbour concept together with its environmental aspects. Thus, Villimale’ West harbour project with the proposed change will alleviate three main issues related to socio-economic development of the island. They are providing a safe and secure harbouring facilities to the vessels together with an easily accessible beaching area and a feasible waste transfer mechanism for the LCs of WAMCO. Environmental impacts of the proposed change were assessed for both construction and operation stage of the project. Most of the identified impacts are positive as they will improve the socio-economic situation of the island. As in all construction projects of this nature and explained in Villimale’ harbour construction EIA, the main negative environmental impact of the project is identified to be the movement and settlement of sediment on the reef and habitat loss during the dredging and breakwater construction. However, the benthic cover of the project area including the proposed channel location is predominantly composed of dead corals, sand and rubble. Hence, combined negative effects are considered to be insignificant compared to the positive effects of the project with the proposed change. Effective impact mitigation measures are to be taken during the construction. It is advised to keep the proposed channel closed until all the dredging is carried out which will prevent the dispersion of suspended sediments. In addition to this, it is strongly recommended to adhere to the mitigation measures proposed in the initial EIA which is sufficient for the project. A special attention should be paid to protect the coral gardening area on the north of the west harbour against sedimentation. Environment monitoring program discussed in 2015 EIA is sufficient and should be followed. Additionally, it is important to visually access and conduct a community consultation to identify whether the harbour basin experiences rough turbulence due to the two channels to an extent where it makes the usage of harbour difficult. In an environmental and technical point of view, the proposed change to the west harbour concept of K.Villimale is justified and beneficial in number of ways.|