Authorities were urged Tuesday to protect the remaining part of the Kulhudhuffushi mangrove which was dredged to build an airport.
A statement from 12 NGOs said the reclamation work ignored the environmental impact assessment. They accused the government of lying about the project.
Nearly 70 percent of the mangrove had been reclaimed despite assurances that only 30 percent would be affected, the statement alleged.
“Unrecoverable losses have been caused to the Kulhudhuffushi mangrove because of actions that were carried out in the name of development without regard to the environment impact assessment and the project decision statement.”
The statement said the remaining part of mangrove was in danger of being destroyed and the protected species faced losing their habitat.
Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim also drew fire, with the NGOs saying he he had influenced the Environment Protection Agency to issue the permit for the reclamation work and that the EPA had failed to carry out its legal responsibilities.
“Authorities cannot commit environmental crimes and try to get away with it by saying there is no scientific proof,” the statement said.
President Abdulla Yameen on Sunday night claimed there was no scientific work to prove the harmful nature of dredging lagoons and wetlands.
“Where is any scientific work done on this? What is the damage that has been done? First of all, the dredging of half of the mangrove of Kulhudhuffushi. We dredged less than half of the mangrove. What was in that area? Clean water or living fishes? It was a wasteland. Where are the environmental experts? Why didn’t they scientifically talk about this?”
But a detailed study about the dredging and reclamation of the Kulhudhuffushi mangrove area was published by the EPA in October 2017.
The study, conducted by contractors and available online, concluded the environmental impact would be irreversible.
Yameen has promised a test-flight will land at the airport before voting day on September 23. Authorities are preparing to land the test-flight on Wednesday, local media reported.
The Environment Ministry and EPA were contacted for comment but there was no response at the time of going to press.
Photo of Kulhudhuffushi mangrove from October 2017