Aslam: We must consider building houses in lagoons, better than land reclamation

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Mohamed Aslam responds to questions during a ministerial questioning session at the Parliament on February 18, 2020. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Mohamed Aslam, on Tuesday, said that it was important to consider building stilt houses in lagoons rather than reclaiming land to create housing.

He made the remark in response to a question during a ministerial questioning session at the Parliament.

It’s not just the area which lies one meter above the water level which must be treated as land space, but also the area which lies one meter below the water level, said Aslam.

He said that Maldives must not disregard the concept of living in houses built in lagoons, and that he personally believed in the merits of such a concept.

“The government will hereafter build structures in lagoons. So that the people may live there without having to reclaim land. Europeans certainly live in such structures here in Maldives. And it’s what they prefer,” said Aslam.

He stressed that while the concept required cost evaluations and other considerations before it could be realized, the concept itself should not be abandoned.

Parliament Speaker, former President Mohamed Nasheed, at this point, asked Aslam to elaborate the concept.

In response, Aslam said that the concept could not be applied to every residential island, but that there did exist several islands where it could work; large lagoons shared by multiple islands.

“We can allocate space from these lagoons. We can allocate and issue space as part of a plan. The government will need to build roads in the way of infrastructure. We will need to build water and sanitation infrastructure. And the rest of the process with require development controls,” said Aslam.

At this response, Speaker Nasheed asked all parliamentarians to get ready for “overwater living”.

Aslam added that land reclamation wasn’t the best of solutions, and that the government ran land reclamation projects “out of necessity”.

He said that many associated land reclamations with development, and even demanded such projects in their islands.

“But, if you give it proper thought, you will realize that many of the reclaimed land spaces are deserts. They are vacant land spaces. Money was just poured down in the form of sand,” said Aslam.