Parliament passes proposal to provide social housing units in Gulhifalhu

The Parliament of the Maldives has passed the proposal to provide social housing units in the area which is being reclaimed in Gulhifalhu, as part of the project to develop an international port.

The proposal was included in the report prepared by the Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Climate Change regarding the environmental concerns surrounding the reclamation works undertaken to develop an international port in Gulhifalhu. The report was passed with votes from 65 parliamentarians.

The report prepared by the committee following the inquiry stated the mitigation measures specified in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report and the measures recommended by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must be imposed, in order to reduce the environmental damage of the project. Noting the project would have a high environmental cost, the report stated the social and economic benefits of the project must be increased in order to justify the cost. As such, the report included a proposal to allocate 15% of the reclaimed area for housing purposes, and to allocate land for the construction of at least 6,000 social housing units.

Several people from the public raised concerns about the irreversible damage the project is causing on nearby reefs and lagoons. Drone pictures from the region have indicated the sediment plume from land reclamation works in Gulhifalhu is spreading directly towards the reefs of nearby Villimale’, endangering over 30 dive sites including the Hans Hanss Point, which is a marine protected area since 1995.