Fuvahmulah is comparatively one of the largest islands in Maldives. Similarly, the environmental threats facing this island are comparatively large too. Recently, the troubles has taken a new twist with reports of severe erosion filling the big headlines in newspapers and with government officials having forced to answer questions relating to the huge devastation facing this island with a vibrant population of about 10,000.
No matter how critical the condition is, how urgent it is to make a start now, no real action is seen in progress as yet, but the usual spin and constant lies of relevant authorities.
These incidents did not start instantaneously. It was predicted much earlier and is now predicted to see worse circumstances in the coming days. During September 2007, a big portion of soil adjacent to the lagoon broke off from the mainland and collapsed into the sea from four different areas near the Bodu Fannu region of the island. The former island chief, answering to a reporter said that “if a solution was not found soon (for erosion) the island would be facing an environmental disaster”. It has been noticed that the overall speed of erosion recently has rapidly increased. A local news website reported the collapse of a 37 feet long portion into the lagoon this week itself. Now this is becoming alarmingly depressing. This not a political issue, but rather a moral issue, which deserves some serious attention. The question we need to ask our selves is what we as individuals can do? Are we going to stand with fingers crossed doing nothing till we drown into the middle of Indian ocean? Or else, are we ready to do stop further erosion? More specifically, are we going to wake up those ‘sleeping’ officials at relevant ministries before it’s too late? May be some would prefer to wait till the father of environment arrives with some sort of magic designed exclusively to stop our problem once and for all.
On 13th April 2008, a big crowd of youth from the island took matters into their hands when they gathered in front of the island office in protest of the widespread illegal theft of sand from the beautiful lagoons of the island. The group demanded for an immediate ban on taking sand from fuvahmulah Lagoons. They put forward a proposal outlined with 14 points that tells the island office how they could stop the illegal actions. Of course, what motivated these youths was not that some poor folks snatched a few bags of sand to finish that construction of that unfinished room, but what motivated them is the huge impact these actions has on the overall environment of an island they love so much.
Recently, there seems to be much hype about the construction of seawall or seawalls near the affected areas. In April, Haveeru Daily reported that Environment ministry has tasked a private company named Riyan with doing detail designs on a possible seawall for Fuvahmulah. In reference to the environment ministry officials, the paper reported that the development of this seawall is divided into a number of phases. According to Riyan Pvt Ltd, they were to test on two types of seawalls, revetment and breakwater seawall, of which one type could be selected by the environment ministry to be built in the affected areas of fuvahmulah. The sound of this gives a relief to all of us. But do we know how far this has progressed now? Do we know for sure this is not yet another political gimmick?
Relating to the September collapses, the former island chief mentioned, “Erosion is already a huge problem for the island,” he said. “With the reef collapses it will only get worse. Already the original size of the island has changed due to erosion. We are constantly reporting such occurrences to the concerned authorities. Even recently a team from the Environment Ministry came here to carry out some research and published a report. But nothing has ever been done about it.
While I salute the courage of our youth and feel proud for their unwavering affection for this island, I detest the ignorance of the top officials at environment and atolls ministry, who are either lost daydreaming in their AC rooms or busy playing their part in the current political theatre. No matter what, one fact remains clear. If not resolved soon, we would see the disappearance of a major piece of land from the map of this nation, leading to the evacuation of an entire population, probably in the next few decades.
Article by Huxam