Last update:
2020-05-18

Noonu Maafaru Airport Expansion Project, Maldives

The Maldives EPA decision to halt a planned expansion of an already controversial airport that would cause immense and irreversible damages to the local environment and community was overturned by the Environment Minister Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan.


Description:

A planned expansion of an already controversial airport was halted by the Maldivian EPA due to the immense and irreversible damages that it would cause to the local environment and community [1,2]. The decision was overturned by the Environment Minister Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan (whose government’s manifesto pledges include protecting and preserving the natural heritage of the country) on the insistence of tourism industry players who are set to benefit massively from the increase in tourists, as well as pressure from the island community who view the international airport as welcome “development” that will further their national profile while providing trickle-down economic benefits. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Noonu Maafaru Airport Expansion Project, Maldives
Country:Maldives
State or province:Noonu
Location of conflict:Maafaru
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Tourism services
Land
lagoon
Project Details and Actors
Project details

22,000 trees lost; 58.2 hectares of reclaimed reef; 75 hectares of lagoon permanently lost; 3,200 meter long runway planned, of which 2,200 exists; 65 hectares of land already given for existing airport; 1,455,000 cubic meters of sand dredged from a footprint of 205, 000 square meters; 8.2 hectares of land cleared of which 3.8 hectares have mature vegetation and 4.36 hectares already cleared; size of Maafaru island is 119 hectares; 517 hectares of seagrass bed on Maafaru of which 42 hectares permanently lost; 43 recorded species of fish; Hawksbill Turtle (IUCN Red List) affected; 106 jobs directly created, ~40 indirectly created;

Project area:65.7
Level of Investment:52,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:715
Start of the conflict:01/04/2017
Company names or state enterprises:Island Aviation Services Limited (IAS) from Maldives
Tuff Infrastructure Pvt Ltd Singapore (subsidiary of Tuff Group AG) from Singapore - Contractor
Sun Siyam Resorts from Maldives - Contractor
GK Developments Company from India - Subcontractor
CDE Consulting from Maldives - Consultants
Relevant government actors:Regional Airports (Maldives); Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (Maldives); Environmental Protection Agency (Maldives); Ministry of Environment (Maldives); Civil Aviation Authority (Maldives); Maafaru Island Council;
International and Finance InstitutionsAbu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) from United Arab Emirates
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:SaveMaldives (https://savemaldives.net/)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Global warming, Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights
Outcome
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:In January of 2020, despite EPA rejects land reclamation request for Maafaru Airport expansion, the Ministre of Environment overrides the decision of the EPA and approves the second phase expansion project. This decision was taken after dismissing the EPA's decision to reject, the expectation is that the project has been approved to continue [8].
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Law on Cultural and Historical Places and Objects of the Maldives (27/79)
[click to view]

Regulation for the Protection and Conservation of the Natural Life and CHaracter of Old Plants and Trees in Maldives
[click to view]

General Laws Act (4/68)
[click to view]

Lan Use Planning Regulation and Guidelines (2005)
[click to view]

Act on Decentralising the Administrative Divisions of the Maldievs (7/2010)
[click to view]

Regulation on Dredging and Land Reclamation
[click to view]

Regulation for Cutting Down, Uprooting, Digging Out and Export of Trees and Palms from One Island to Another
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Maafaru airport contractor seeks extended deadline (The Edition, 21 March 2019)
[click to view]

Maafaru airport incomplete due to bribery: Nasheed (The Edition, 3 April 2019)
[click to view]

'Maafaru airport will be a gift from UAE' (The Edition, 25 December 2017)
[click to view]

President Yameen inaugurates Maafaru International Airport (The Edition, 29 August 2018)
[click to view]

Fraught with fraudulence: Maafaru International Airport (The Edition, 5 December 2018)
[click to view]

GKD takes Maafaru airport contractor to court (The Edition, 23 December 2018)
[click to view]

Maafaru International Airport under audit (The Edition, 16 December 2018)
[click to view]

EOI Invitation for Prequalification to Bid for Construction Works
[click to view]

Turtle steals maiden landing on Maafaru runway (The Edition, 9 April 2019)
[click to view]

EPA rejects land reclamation request for Maafaru Airport expansion (The Edition, 29 December 2019)
[click to view]

Another lost turtle found at Maafaru Airport (The Edition, 31 December 2019)
[click to view]

State approves Maafaru Airport runway expansion (The Edition, 13 January 2020)
[click to view]

Endangered turtle returns to beach to lay its eggs only to find runway has been built (The Independent (UK), 11 April 2019)
[click to view]

[3] Turtle steals maiden landing on Maafaru runway (The Edition, 9 April 2019)
[click to view]

[4] Another lost turtle found at Maafaru Airport (The Edition, 31 December 2019)
[click to view]

Local firm to develop domestic airport in Maafaru (The Edition, 27 April 2017)
[click to view]

High Court declines to stop handover of Maafaru airport (The Edition, 17 May 2017)
[click to view]

ACC requests suspension of Regional Airports Deputy Director (The Edition, 5 November 2018)
[click to view]

Transport Minister to talk Maafaru Airport issues with ADFD (The Edition, 26 December 2018)
[click to view]

"International flights to be operated from Maafaru Airport" (AvasOnline, 25 December 2019)
[click to view]

Maafaru International Airport readies for international flights in December (Maldives Business Review, 25 November 2019)
[click to view]

Act on Decentralising the Administrative Divisions of the Maldievs (7/2010)
[click to view]

[5] Endangered turtle returns to beach to lay its eggs only to find runway has been built (The Independent (UK), 11 April 2019)
[click to view]

[8] State approves Maafaru Airport runway expansion (The Edition, 13 January 2020)
[click to view]

EOI Invitation for Prequalification to Bid for Construction Works (Gazette of the Maldivian Government, 28 March 2019)
[click to view]

Maldives customs stop illegal export of coconut palms (Maldives Independent, 3 November 2018)
[click to view]

Maldivian begins flights to Maafaru International Airport (The Edition, 1 December 2019)
[click to view]

"Corruption watchdog orders halt on payment for Maafaru airport contractors" (raajje.mv, 8 November 2018)
[click to view]

"N. Maafaru airport expansion project was rejected by EPA. Below is the decision statement for the project." (@EPAMaldives on Twitter, 29 December 2019)
[click to view]

Environment Minister visits Maafaru to 'further investigate' airport dispute (The Edition, 9 January 2019)
[click to view]

[2] EPA rejects land reclamation request for Maafaru Airport expansion (The Edition, 29 December 2019)
[click to view]

CALL FOR EXPRESSION OF INTEREST (EOI) FOR THE DEVELOPMENT AND OPERATION OF A DOMESTIC AIRPORT (Gazette of the Maldivian Government, 28 March 2019)
[click to view]

[6] Maafaru Airport Ecocide (27 Feb 2020)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Save Maldives campaign
[click to view]

[7] Save Maldives campaign
[click to view]

Other documents

(EIA Addendum 2019) Second Addendum to the EIA for the proposed Airport Development Project at Maafaru Island, Noonu Atoll Part 1: http://files.epa.gov.mv/file/1493

Part 2: http://files.epa.gov.mv/file/1492

Part 3: http://files.epa.gov.mv/file/1491

Part 4: http://files.epa.gov.mv/file/1490
[click to view]

Notice for Cancellation of EOI (Ministry of Transport and Communication, 24 March 2013) Page 30 of the Gazette document.
[click to view]

Call for EOI (Ministry of Transport and Communication, Gazette of the Maldivian Government, 30 January 2013) Page 24 of the Gazette document.
[click to view]

Maafaru Island Airport Project EIA (EPA, 2014)
[click to view]

Maafaru Airport Expansion Approval DS (EPA, 2017)
[click to view]

Maafaru Airport Expansion Rejection DS (EPA, 2019)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Hussain Shaihaan Abdulla, SaveMaldives, [email protected]
Last update18/05/2020
Comments
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