EPA to advise parties violating guidelines

Coral bleaching at a Baa atoll reef: EPA demanded a halt on land reclamation due to the ongoing bleaching event owing to its potential for irrecoverable damage -- Photo/ Marine Journal Maldives

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday said some contractors have been carrying land reclamation initiatives despite the agency's recent order to halt them.

EPA earlier demanded to halt all ongoing reclamation projects in light of the ongoing mass coral bleaching event due to all-time high sea temperatures.

The agency further noted that any initiative putting stress on coral reefs amid the bleaching event could post irrecoverable damages to them, and ordered to halt the projects until June 10, 2024.

Despite the demand, EPA said some contractors were still carrying out reclamation efforts.

In response to questions raised by 'Sun', EPA Director General Ibrahim Naeem confirmed this, but did not provide additional details. He said the agency will advise the contractors violating its earlier order.

"We have demanded to stop those reclamation projects, especially ones that utilize cement. However, some of them are still ongoing," Naeem commented.

"For now we do not intend to take any action against them, but rather advise them against it to reach a solution."

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice Husnu Al-Suood recently stressed the importance of extending financial and legal autonomy to EPA.

EPA demanded a halt of reclamation efforts since the Maldives is under "Alert Level 1" of the bleaching event.

Besides land reclamation, EPA demanded a halt on sand filling using pumps, installation of pumps on reefs, boundary wall development, and other initiatives that require machineries.