The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that the reef of Vilingili is not affected much by the Gulhifalhu reclamation project that is currently underway.
A 192-hectare land reclamation project is currently underway at the location where a planned commercial harbor is to be built. The project has drawn controversy for its environmental impact on the surrounding ecosystem and reefs. Fears have been heightened that the project could create murky the waters and destroy coral reefs which could negatively impact around 30 dive spots nearby.
EPA has now commenced on disclosing the details of monitoring reports of the project. The agency’s website now has details of findings between 27-29 May.
The agency surveyed the waters near the reef at three different depths to observe turbidity. The agency stated that the project has not yet affected the reef much in terms of turbidity and the levels were currently maintained at an average.
Monitoring data received from proponent (https://t.co/8J5z93cfE7) and data taken by EPA today suggests turbidity levels at Villingili reef is around 0 NTU at the time of observation which is below the threshold level. pic.twitter.com/SbekPaH0if— EPA Maldives (@EPAMaldives) May 31, 2020
EPA will also be observing the course of sands deposited to the site as part of the reclamation project. The entire project will also be monitored and the public will be informed of the developments, said the agency.
Boskalis Company which is running the reclamation project has said that it was not possible to erect silt screens in the area to stop sand from drifting in the current due to the depth of the location. The Company is now working by placing large bags in the area to stop the process.
Photos have been circulating showing sand and sediment drifting and forming a somewhat underwater pathway between Vilingili and Gulhifalhu which is visible from the air. This has raised concerns from many regarding the economic impact. The matter was also submitted to the Parliament today.
Fishermen have also expressed displeasure over the impact the project could have on fishing activities. The area where and is mined for the project is a spot where bait fishing is conducted. It is also used as an anchor point.