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Maldives denies population relocation plans for F. Atoll project

Maldives government Sunday denied plans to relocate residents from any islands to accommodate Saudi led mega project in Faafu Atoll.

Amid rumours of the government's plan to sell an entire Atoll to the Saudi royal family for a staggering USD10 billion mega project, opposition had claimed that populations of several inhabited islands in Faafu Atoll would be relocated for the project.

However, minister at the President's office Ahmed Zuhoor on Sunday insisted that though the government would always look to relocate scarcely populated islands to larger ones, the government would not do so to make way for a specific project.

Zuhoor, who is also the chairman of the national economic and youth council during an exclusive interview with Avas said the relocation plans to provide more access to facilities.

The minister insisted that the government would look for relocation regardless of a project

"There are currently no plans to relocate residents of any island for the project. But every government has discussed relocating the inhabitants on islands with small populations to larger islands. It is more difficult to provide certain services for islands with smaller populations, whether it be education, health services or transportation," Zuhoor said.

"So generally, it has always been a government plan to centralize the population. So there's no new plan. But the government is not thinking of forcing people out of an island to accommodate an investment," he stressed.

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has led an outcry over a government move to lease a lagoon in Faafu Atoll to the Saudi Royal family for a mega project.

MDP has continuously accused the government of selling the entire Atoll when King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud arrives in the Maldives next week.

Government had announced the Saudi led mega project in Faafu Atoll worth USD10 billion would put the Maldives "on the map."

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