'EIA process of projects will not be influenced'

Environment Ministry has stated that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process of development projects will not be influenced by any party.

The statement comes amid revelations of two northern islands illegally uprooting trees for profit.

During a press conference held Sunday, State Minister of Environment Ministry, Dr Abdulla Naseer refuted claims that the EIA processes were being influenced to remove more trees and palms than necessary to profit off its sale.

Naseer said the recommendations outlined in EIA reports are strictly assessed by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and assured that the ministry will take action if more trees than necessary are uprooted.

He revealed that EIAs made for two projects this year requested the removal of more than the required number of trees. After assessing the reports, EPA rejected the reports and took action against the councils of both islands involved, said Naseer.

Naseer assured that EIAs are closely assessed by EPA, which leaves no room for influence.

Noting that EPA has looked into all complaints submitted over the illegal removal of trees, Naseer said illegal removal of trees has not been identified in the cases presented. The complaints show that the removal of trees is a common concern, he added.

Naseer also revealed that EPA rejected 60 projects that did not adhere to regulations during the last year. The number of complaints over illegal removal of trees has been considerably less this year, said Naseer.

EIAs are conducted to inform decision-makers and the public of environmental consequences in implementing a proposed project.