The people of Vaavu Atoll staged a protest at sea on Saturday, calling to return Hulhidhoo – an island in the atoll that has been leased by the government for agricultural purposes.
Guesthouses as well as residents from different islands of the atoll took part in the demonstration held over water.
This includes islands, Fulidhoo, Thinadhoo, Felidhoo, Keyodhoo, and Rakeedhoo.
Speaking with Sun, the owner of White Makana guesthouse in V.Keyodhoo said that the concerns people of the atoll have over Hulhidhoo have been around for a long time.
He noted that the people are unhappy as the concerns have yet to be addressed.
“We have planned a series of protests. Even if we ended it for today, we will do it again. We protested near Hulhidhoo, without entering the lagoon.”
Moreover, he said that this was the only island available for the people of the atoll to go on picnics. But as the natural beauty of the island has been destroyed along with the reef, that is an issue of concern. He added that this was the main reason for their protesting to get the island back.
Noting that the island was given to a company that Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla’s father has shares in, he said that it was due to this that their administrative efforts to regain the island ended in failure.
The Director General of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Ibrahim Naeem on Saturday said that the authority was aware of the damages to the reef and other areas of Hulhidhoo.
Naeem went on to state that conversations were ongoing with relevant parties regarding it, however, as of now, no one has claimed responsibility for the damages.
The island was reportedly given for agricultural purposes years ago, but as no work has been done, the agreement is now void.
Despite this, the people of the atoll have not regained the island, hence the issue has been raised by the people.
It is one of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's administration’s vows to establish an island for picnics and other recreational purposes as well as return Hulhidhoo to the people.