Supreme Court overturns High Court's stay on Gulhifalhu dredging project

The Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a High Court's order to halt the Gulhifalhu dredging project.

The Gulhifalhu dredging project was awarded to a Dutch company, Boskalis, on October 17, 2019, during the administration of former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. The MVR 2 billion project aimed to dredge 65 hectares of land. However, under the new administration of President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, an additional 85 hectares have been added to the project, bringing the total to 150 hectares.

Environmental activist Humaidha Abdul Ghafoor initially filed a case against the state in the Civil Court to stop the Gulhifalhu dredging, citing environmental damage. However, the court ruled that such an order could not be issued. Humaidha then filed the case at the High Court, claiming the dredging was causing irreparable environmental damage to the area and its surroundings. On February 14, the High Court issued an interim order to pause the project. However, after the state appealed, the High Court reversed its decision and allowed the project to proceed.

The state appealed the matter at the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court Wednesday ruled that the petitioner had not sufficiently demonstrated the permanent environmental damage caused by the dredging. The judgment also noted that halting the project would result in significant financial losses to the state, as per the agreement with the contractor. It further noted that the High Court issued the order to stop the dredging in violation of the rules prescribed by the Supreme Court for issuing such orders.