The government has identified several plots of lands in Fuvahmulah to lease or sell for economic development, without consultation with the island’s residents or its council.
The housing ministry sent a letter to the atoll council – obtained by Maldives Independent – stating that 10 to 15 percent of the proceeds from selling or leasing the land will be transferred to the council’s budget.
However, the details of the government’s plans remains unclear.
Atoll council president Abdulla Falah Shareef said the council and the public are concerned because of the lack of consultation.“This was a sudden and uncalled-for decision by the ministry. We don’t know for what purposes the land will be used or whether land will be leased or sold. So many things are unclear.”
Falah said the Fuvahmulah public have been raising concerns over shortage of land for housing.
The southern island has a population of approximately 12,000 people. Fuvahmulah is the only island in the Maldives that is also its own separate atoll.
“Land has been not given for housing for more than 10 years now. We have more wetland than dry land here. People are asking me why the government is giving priority to leasing or selling land to outsiders while people here have been asking for land for years now,” he said.
The government has started construction of 200 flats in Fuvahmulah.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration decided to build 300 flats in Fuvahmulah, Falah noted, but the current government decided to relocate 100 flats to Hulhumalé.
“Two hundred housing units will definitely not solve the housing problem here,” he said.
The lands identified by the housing ministry for economic development include the fire station, a water pump station and land allocated for housing.
“This proves the government took the decision without even checking the land use plan. It is all a big confusion. We don’t know what is happening,” he said.
Officials from the housing ministry were not available for comment at the time of publication.
In December, 2014 the Peoples Majlis amended the Land Act, paving way for ministries to either lease or sell lands allocated to them. A special regulation under the law was enacted in April this year.
Amendments brought to the constitution in late July authorising foreigners to own freeholds in the Maldives with an investment of US$1 billion sparked controversy and raised fears of Chinese military expansion in the country.