The Maldives’ five-star resorts have turned the Thilafushi reef into a seven-kilometre long dumpsite, Al Jazeera has reported.
“Environmental activists say the bad practices adopted there are causing contaminants to seep into the Indian Ocean nation’s once pristine sea water, and then into the food chain,” journalist Steve Chao reported.
“If you’re looking to soak up some sun in the Maldives, this isn’t the island you want to be on.”
Now a dumpsite for the country’s 1200 islands, Thilafushi hardly resembles the unspoiled coral reef it was 20 years ago, Chao reports, with little of the waste recycled, composted or treated as required by law.
“Nobody is managing this – the tourism industry is not ethically or morally doing their work,” a Maldivian environmental activist tells the news network, adding that every tourist to the country generates 7.2 kilograms of garbage a day.
“The only treatment the mountains of trash gets is Bangladeshi wokers picking through looking for recyclables goods to sell,” Chao reports. “We learn they are also paid by the government to burn the garbage, sending untold toxins into the air. We’ve been here only a few minutes but already the smoke is stinging the eyes and there’s an acrid taste in the mouth.”
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam claimed the international community had for years promised to build proper facilities to handle the waste, “but the world does not wiit for these proceedures and processes to be completed. I think this needs to be fast tracked.”
“Although the Maldives is one of the top destination for international tourists, the country remains very poor,” Chao noted.