Govt. pulls plug on controversial Fainu airport project

The government has decided against building an airport in Fainu island of Raa atoll.

The Transport Ministry has confirmed the decision, stating that the project is being ceased due to the negative environmental impacts of the project.

The former government of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's decision to build an airport in Fainu was met with a lot of backlash and criticism from the public, with strong campaigns against the project being launched. However, then defense Minister, originally from Fainu island advocated in favor of the project.

A naturally beautiful island, one of the key members who advocated against the project was MDP member Mohamed Waheed from the Fainu island. He is the newly elected parliament member for the constituency.

According to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report on the project, several negative impacts of the project on the environment were identified, the biggest issue being the need to cut down a large number of trees for the project. 38% of the lush green areas of the island would need to be uprooted, which amounts to around 5792 trees according to the EIA report. Due to such a move, the soil, fresh water later and the temperature of the island would be negatively affected, noted the report.

Fainu island has 20 large banyan trees which are expected to grow for several hundred years. Eight out of these 20 banyan trees would need to be cut, along with several large oil-nut trees as they are located in the area proposed for the construction of the airport, identified the report.

Further more, lagoon dredging for land reclamation purposes would disturb the ocean life and the reefs, with the added risk of oil leakages from sea vessels used during the project, stated the report.