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Causeway worsened flooding as warned by environment impact report

Hoadehdhoo islanders dug out the causeway after swell surges flooded the island.



Flooding on two southern islands last week was predicted by an environment impact assessment for a causeway proposed to connect the Hoadehdhoo and Madaveli islands.

Hoadehdhoo islanders dug out a section from the 440-meter causeway after swell surges flooded the island over the previous week. The MVR29 million (US$1.8 million) project was inaugurated by President Abdulla Yameen during a campaign trip in August.  

The destruction of the causeway to unblock water flow between the islands was condemned by ruling party lawmakers. It was politically-motivated and unlawful damage to a state project, MP Ahmed Nihan told the press.

But the opposition-majority council said islanders were forced to act when waves rose over the causeway and seeped ashore. The authorities failed to respond to calls, according to councillors.

The environmental impact assessment report – which is not available online but a copy of which has been seen by Maldives Independent – had warned that the causeway would close the aperture between the islands of Madaveli, Haadhoo and Hoadehdhoo, which are located in the same lagoon in Gaaf Dhaal atoll.

“In the event of storm surge (udha), water will pile up at the western side bay area causing rise of water level consequently causing flooding,” the EIA report stated.

“Even at present, periodic flooding is experienced during [the southwestern] monsoon due to storm surge. Therefore protection against storm surge is thought to be less and negative impacts high due to current design of the causeway.”

The design lacked coastal protection measures, the report noted.

Last week’s flooding salinated farm fields and damaged the mangroves, Hoadehdhoo island council president Mohamed Ayash told the Maldives Independent.

The causeway becomes submerged in high tide, Ayash said, and was poorly built by the state-owned Maldives Transport and Contracting Company.

“It is very low quality, and was made entirely of sand and it erodes easily,” he said.

Islanders dug out a channel after floodwaters reached double its usual distance on September 27, he said. A yellow alert by the meteorology department warning of tidal or swell waves was in effect at the time. 

“We complained about there not being enough space for culverts [openings that allow water to flow] when they built it. When there’s high tide, the culverts are beneath water level,” Ayash said.

“When there’s flooding or swells, the people do their civic duty. They don’t wait for the council to tell them what to do. They try to mitigate the swells. That’s what happened on the 27th. We hadn’t noticed how much it had flooded, but the water was 20 feet into the island that day.

“A group of people who had gone to use the causeway noticed the high water levels and called on the MTCC site manager. He also said we needed a solution. Then some people went and destroyed the causeway.” 

Sources from the Environment Protection Agency confirmed to the Maldives Independent that the water would not flow when the culverts are submerged. This was noted by the EPA when the project was launched.

But an MTCC official told local media that the company was not to blame for the “design flaw” as it “did the work based on the designs housing ministry gave us.”

The Maldives Independent reached out to housing ministry but the media official did not respond before the weekend.

The EIA report had also identified other impacts “such as change to hydrodynamics and loss of marine habitat and possible increase in surge-related flooding” as well as loss of habitat and sedimentation due to reclamation, pollution of natural environmental and possible spillages.

Posted by Mahdhoon Adam on Thursday, 27 September 2018

The bad design did not only cause inundation, it also caused heavy erosion to both Madaveli and Hoadedhdhoo’s shores…

Posted by ‎محمد حسين‎ on Thursday, 27 September 2018

Photos from Hoadehdhoo council.