MP Haaroon attacks Maafaru EIA for halting inter-atoll development

Terminal building of Maafaru International Airport in Noonu Atoll. (Sun Photo/Aishath Fareeha Abdulla)

MP N. Manadhoo, Ahmed Haaroon has criticized the Environmental Impact Assessment carried out by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the expansion of Maafaru International Airport.

MP Haaroon declared in a tweet that efforts to stop the mining of sand from Maafaru lagoon had failed and criticized the fact that developments to inter-atolls were brought to a standstill citing environmental damage.

“It is okay to reclaim land near Male’ for the development of resorts. Development is for the areas only surrounding Male’. Don't try to stop the development of inter-atolls” said MP Haaroon.

The EPA advised not to continue with the expansion plans of Maafaru airport as the plans were not reasonable enough when compared with the socio-economic and environmental issues that the plan would bring forth.

There was no way of estimating the number of Boeing aircraft that would land at the airport, and the expansion plans would also see the destruction of a large area of the lagoon which would also endanger marine life, according to the EPA.

EPA also stated that the area of the lagoon designated for reclamation was a frequent habitat of sea turtles as well as a nesting location for sea turtles and habitat for other marine organisms.

The project could also cause soil erosion, which would be extremely costly to find a solution for, according to the EPA.

The plans would also see 22,000 trees cut down, to make way for the project. There were also no plans to address this issue by the government so far, according to the EPA.

The international airport in Maafaru was opened on December 1, 2019, and has a runway large enough to accommodate Airbus A320 and Boeing 737s.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced that the company that developed the airport had expressed interest in expanding the airport so that it can accommodate Airbus A380s as well.

The funds for the project have also been approved by the UAE government.