Parliament approves to recommend Gulhifalhu land allocation for housing

The Parliament has approved to request the government to allocate enough land to build at least 6,000 housing units in the newly reclaimed area of Gulhifalhu.

65 members voted in favour of the environment committee's report proposing to allocate land for construction of housing units. No members voted against the report.

An amendment to the report was proposed by Villimale' MP Ahmed Usham to increase the number of housing units to 8,000. However, 58 members voted against the amendment and only 6 members voted in its favour. Therefore, the amendment was not included in the report.

The land being reclaimed in Gulhifalhu is for the purpose of shifting Male' Commercial Harbour to the area. However, the reclamation work has caused nearby Villimale's lagoon to become clouded from mud. The Environment Committee assessed the issue and presented their findings in the report.

The report said while the project has environmental impacts, instead of focusing on the one project alone, socioeconomic aspects must be added to the project to justify it. While neighbouring Male' is heavily congested and overcrowded, the committee proposed to allocate 15 percent of the reclaimed land to build housing units to ease housing issues in the capital city. The report also stressed that the land allocated for the purpose must be adequate to construct 6,000 housing units.

The committee, in its report further proposed to instruct the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to continue to take steps to minimize the environmental impact of the project. It further called to establish a temporary committee to oversee the steps taken to minimize the environmental impact. The committee would convene once a week, the report further proposed. The discussions that ensue during the meetings, and its conclusion must be publicized following every meeting, the report recommended.

The report further called for the government to decide on the furthest depth that can be reclaimed as reference for future projects, and proposed to give the greenlight for projects that do not require an additional budget to protect the environment from any negative impacts that may stem from the project.