Minister Muthalib: A well wisher to the nation wouldn't have executed Gulhifalhu agreement

Minister of Construction and Infrastructure Dr. Abdulla Muthalib speaks at a press conference on November 23, 2023. (Photo/Infinite Moments/Mohamed Shaathiu Abdulla)

Infrastructure Minister Dr. Mohamed Muthalib has described the agreement executed with respect to Gulhifalhu reclamation project as “something people who wished well for the nation would not have done”.  

Former president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration awarded the second phase of Gulhifalhu reclamation valued at over MVR 2 billion to Netherlands contractor Boskalis in January of last year. The administration had planned to dedicate the second phase to the development of a regional port.

Environmental activist Humaida Abdul Ghafoor had filed a case with the Civil Court, seeking a halt to the Gulhifalhu project, citing irrevocable damage to the environment. But after the court denied an injunction to halt the project, she appealed the decision with the High Court.

On Wednesday, the appellant court granted the injunction, ordering a halt to the project until the court makes a final ruling.

The Attorney General’s Office appealed the injunction with the Supreme Court. The office also sought an interim order, to delay the enforcement of the High Court injunction.

Supreme Court issued an interim order on Thursday, instructing against the enforcement of the High Court injunction – pending a decision by the court on the appeal.

Sharing the news on X, Minister Muthalib said the people who attempted to mislead the public by claiming the High Court injunction had been issued in line with the government’s wishes are the people who executed the agreement in a manner that could subject the state to losses.

“The agreement executed to reclaim Gulhifalhu is not the kind of agreement people who wish well for the nation will execute,” he said.

Supreme Court’s interim order read that the losses incurred by the state could be extensive if the enforcement of the High Court injunction is not postponed.

The interim order was issued by the consensus of the three justices who received the appeal; Justice Ali Rasheed, who chaired the bench, Justice Husnu Al Suood and Justice Azmiralda Zahir.

Former State Minister for Housing Akram Kamaluddin who headed the former administration’s housing committee told Sun that the government needs to pay USD 300,000 in damages for Netherland-based contractor Boskalis for each single day the reclamation of Gulhifalhu is stalled. 

The High Court order came with over 100 hectors out of the planned 150 hectors already reclaimed. President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu had also announced plans to reclaim an additional 85 hectors.

The reclamation of Gulhifalhu, along with Giraavarufalhu and Hulhumale’ is part of the ‘Binveriya’ housing scheme, launched by former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. His administration had announced plans to issue at least 1,000 plots from Hulhumale’, 2,000 from Gulhifalhu, and another 2,000 from Giraavarufalhu, to provide housing to residents of Male’.