Environment agency head demoted

Senior officials of the state environment regulator have been transferred in an apparent demotion.

Environment Protection Agency (EPA) director general Ibrahim Naeem was transferred to the Baa atoll biosphere reserve office while director Mohamed Musthafa was transferred to the water and sanitation department of the environment ministry.

The EPA functions under the ministry of environment and energy.

The move follows a government-aligned MP submitting amendments to the tourism law to transfer powers to authorise developments on resorts from the EPA to the tourism ministry.

If the amendments pass, resorts will have to seek authorisation from the tourism ministry for any development on a resort that could “permanently alter” the island, plot of land, or lagoon’s environment. The ministry must compile an environmental impact assessment before issuing permission.

The EPA currently conducts assessments and authorises projects such as land reclamation.

Following preliminary debate at yesterday’s sitting of parliament, the amendment bill was accepted for consideration and sent to committee for further review.