Thakandhu Island office hijacked over jackfruit tree

A group of people hijacked the Haa Alifu Atoll Thakandhu island office on Monday after were unable to cut down a jackfruit tree on the land where they planned to build a pre-school.

Island Chief of Thakandhu said that he could not give information as ”the person who gives information is not here.”

However a person familiar with the matter told Minivan News that the hijackers was a group who were trying to establish a pre-school on the island.

He said the group was angry because “they were asking for a court warrant to cut the tree, but the tree belongs to a man on Thakandhu.”

He said the island court ruled to that the tree could be felled after payment of RF2000 to the owner.

”But the owner wants Rf 8000,” the source explained, “and he went to appeal it in the High Court.”

”So they have to wait until the High Court rules they can build the preschool, and that’s why they are  protesting.”

He said the group entered the island office the day before yesterday and blocked the island chief and staff from entering.

”The staffs working in the office were not able to do their work,” the source said, adding that “yesterday also they gathered near the island office with microphones and loudspeakers.”

He said the police came and dispersed the crowd yesterday, although nobody was arrested.

Police Sergeant Abdul Muhusin said the crowed was dispersed at 7:00pm yesterday.

Muhusin said that the people were gathered near the island office when police arrived the island at 3 pm.

State minister for home Ahmed Adil said he had no information about the case.


”Hithaadhu will run out of water in a day,” warns island councilor

Councilor of Hithaadhoo in Baa Atoll Amir Abdul Latheef has claimed the island will run out of water over the weekend if the government does not provide it for them urgently.

Amir said the island office had reports that some people on the island had begun using well water for drinking and cooking, a practice banned by the Health Ministry twelve years ago due to the impurity of the ground water in the island.

”All the water tanks are now almost empty,” Amir said. ”We informed [the government] office one week ago. They said they would deliver water to us, but there has been no response after that.”

He said the islanders were worried over the issue and wondering what to do if the government did not provide aid for them.

He said there was a total population of 1222 people on the island of Hithaadhoo.

Councilor of Kihaadhoo in Baa Atoll Abdulla Naseem said some people on the island had also started using well water for cooking as there was not enough water on the island.

Naseem said the ground water of the island was impure due to sewerage.

”Fifty per-cent of the ground water is polluted while water from some areas is totally impure,” he said.

He said the island would run out of water in two to three months.

”We have already informed [the government] that we might run out of water,” he said. ”Last time the government provided 30,000 litres of water.”

He said 425 people lived on the Island of Kihaadhoo.

State minister for health Abdul Baary Abdulla said there was a long list of islands where the ministry had banned the use of water to drink and cook.

Baary said there were many diseases that could potentially result from the use of contaminated water, including diarrhoea, stomach ailments and skin diseases.


Dissolving IDCs an undemocratic power grab, says DQP

The government’s abolition of the Island Development Committees (IDC) is a blow against democracy in the Maldives, the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has said.

“This is a mockery of the public and the Constitution,” the party said, “and more a feature of autocratic rule than democracy.”

The Maldivian Cabinet dissolved the IDCs – elected bodies of five to seven members, functioning like a local council – last month after
courts ruled they had no legal authority under the new constitution.

Government-appointed advisory boards will administer the islands until local councils can be elected, assuming a decentralisation bill (currently at committee stage) is passed by parliament.

“We think this is a step backwards for democracy,” said DQP Secretary General Abdullah Ameen, who accused the government of strengthening its territorial control through autocracy.

“Even during Gayoom’s time the IDCs were the only institutions where people on the islands saw democracy practiced, and were among the only democratic institutions in the country,” he said.

The move, claimed independent MP Mohamed Nasheed on DhiTV last night, amounted to “burying democracy in the islands”.

Under the terms of the constitution, the elections of island, atoll and city councils were to be held before July 1, 2009, in order to provide for decentralised administration of the country.

Instead, argued the DQP, the government had not only missed the deadline but was using the dissolution of the IDCs to claim island assets such as powerhouses for privatisation.

“Dismissing the IDCs and appointing advisory boards doesn’t accomplish anything,” Ameen said.

The deadline for the local elections elapsed after the parliamentary election was postponed from February to May because MPs failed to pass the necessary legislation.

Deputy Home Minister Ahmed Shafeeq acknowledged that island assets were currently being valued through the courts before being handed over to utility companies, but said the government was waiting for the”new rules and procedures” in the decentralisation bill to be implemented before establishing elected and salaried island and atoll councils.

“After the new constitution was introduced the Island Development Committees were no longer lawful – and that’s a problem for such an institution,” he said.

“They have no legal basis and we can’t just [continue] as if they do,” he added, explaining that the government-appointed advisory boards were only a temporary measure.

Besides dissolving the IDCs, the cabinet decided to allow the development of tourist guest houses on inhabited islands in the hope of generating additional income from visitors.