Heavy Load re-submits proposal for developing Enboodhoo

A proposal to develop  Enboodhoo lagoon in Kaafu Atoll has been re-submitted by Heavy Load Maldives, a corporation linked to Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) Chairperson Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik, Haveeru reports.

The National Planning Council reportedly discussed the proposal by Heavy Load in early July. But officials said the proposal has not been fully approved, and all parties are invited to submit proposals.

Heavy Load received US$21 million (Rf269.8 million) from Thilafushi Corporation Limited (TCL) in late September, allegedly to reclaim 130 hectares from Thilafushi lagoon, reports Haveeru.

However, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) asked Heavy Load to halt work and open the project opportunity to other development groups.

Enboodhoo lagoon is located 10 kilometers from Malé.


Letter on Thilafushi pollution

We appreciate the efforts all of you have contributed in reporting news and events all over the country. Your reports on politics, social welfare, education, environment are well covered and appreciated, however, there are various key areas that the media has been lax in exploiting.

I live close to the new police complex in Galolhu, and just like hundreds of other people, I go jogging at the track close by every day. If you pay a visit to the track around 7:30pm when all the lights on the track are lit, you will see the whole sky whitened with a fog. TOXIC SMOKE from the burning of garbage on Thilaafushi.

It is becoming impossible to use the track and the football grounds between 6:00pm and 11:00pm due to this air pollution, in addition to the excruciating garbage smell from ‘the Male waste collection yard next to the grounds. Air pollution in Male is at unacceptable level, and presumably it is due to mis-management of waste in Male and in Thilaafushi through prevailing means of disposal. The public is exposed to excessive toxic fumes, and more worrying and annoying is to see small school kids engaged in athletics while at the same time inhaling all the toxic residues.

A closer look at the water on the beaches in Thilaafushi it is contaminated with all kind of toxins. The amount of insects and pests ranging from rodents, flies is extremely too much and resorts close by are facing the worst fly infestations ever. Food poisoning due to contaminated fish is a common thing on Thilaafushi, and also in Male. Irrespective of government advice, fishermen still get fish from polluted reefs and waters surrounding Thilafushi and Male’.

Media is one of the strongest means of public awareness and communication. As you continue educating the public on waste management and proper sanitation, we request you to expose facts on negligence or improper management of waste, relay public concerns over health risks connected to this pollution, and maybe start a campaign to ban the sale of fish taken from waters surrounding Thilaafushi and Male’.

Hospitals and clinics are full with people suffering from bacterial and viral illnesses. Ecoli is already reported last week, dengue is on the rise, and surprisingly, Maldives has seen the deaths of very young kids and teenagers to chronic cancers, and illnesses related to lungs, kidney, liver, etc. I mean, as a concerned parent it worries me not to know reasons for such. Probably its time the government invests or seeks professional assistance in research on ‘the health side effects of living around air polluted environment for long. What could be the problems that may arise decades later or are the medical issues faced today related to this pollution?

Please take some time and visit the jogging track any evening after 7:30 to experience it for yourself. Once again, thank you for all the media work.

Edward, a concerned resident of Male’


“If you’re looking to soak up some sun in the Maldives, this isn’t the island you want to be on”

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.


Employ recovering addicts, President urges big business

State-owned corporations and large businesses should help rehabilitate drug addicts back into society through active recruitment, President Mohamed Nasheed has said during his weekly radio address.

The President noted the state-owned construction firm Works Corporation Limited had employed 15 recovering addicts in its Thilafushi precast yard, and that 11 of the 15 had successfully completed the program. The company had now taken on an additional 25 young people to boost the government’s drug rehabilitation efforts, he said.

Addicts, he said, were isolated from their families and society as a result of their addiction, and such programs could return them to the community.


Thilafushi tenants owe US$880,000 in back rent, says TCL

Tilafushi Corporation Limited (TCL) is currently not leasing any land plots on Thilafushi island to new applicants, says Chief Executive Officer of TCL Mohamed Zahir, because they are inundated with applications.

Meanwhile almost a fifth of the plots already allocated are lying idle, while some tenants have failed to pay rent to the tune of (US$882,000).

The 100 percent government-owned company is responsible for managing and developing Thilafushi island, formerly known as Thilafalhu lagoon. Reclamation of the lagoon began in 1992 in order to solve the waste management problems from garbage generated in Malé.

Other industry workers, such as brick makers, were leased land plots in Thilafushi by the previous government, and new applications for land plots are constantly coming in to TCL.

“We have decided there is no intention to give land [to new applicants],” Zahir said, but added that “the board has decided to give land to those who applied before 31 December 2009.”

TCL received 84 claims for land plots before the end of 2009, and Zahir said these plots will “hopefully” be allocated to the claimants this year.

“There is a lot of interest in the market,” Zahir said, “we have to do something. We have no proper industry and people are still demanding [land].”

Zahir said they are re-planning Thilafushi by building timber outlets, garages and workshops, and the land plots which are to be leased should be ready within the year.

He said there are currently 256 lots under lease, but “fifty or sixty of them are not working at all.”

Zahir added that some of the people who had land plots allocated to them had not yet moved from Malé to Thilafushi and the corporation has asked them to move to Thilafushi by September 2010.

Zahir added that “some of the tenants [who were given land by the previous government] have not paid their rent up to April 2009,” money which he claimed adds up to a total of Rf11.3 million (US$882,000).

“These people have to pay,” Zahir said, but noted that the TCL has only been collecting rent money since April 2009.

He said the tenants who owe TCL rent money “say they will pay.”

The TCL is also hoping to reclaim an additional 19 million square metres of land by mid-2010.

Zahir added that the statements of their intention to lease land without announcing it in today’s article on Haveeru were “all wrong” and their intention is to further develop the island before considering new applications for land.