The Housing Ministry has come under fire for uprooting trees along the Henveiru artificial beach area to widen the capital’s ring road.
The work to redevelop Boduthakurufaanu Magu started last Thursday, with at least two dozen trees removed to make way for a new asphalt road.
Housing Minister Dr. Mohamed Muizzu told local media that the ministry had decided to redevelop the road, starting from the new industrial village on the south-western end of Malé to the Hulhumalé ferry terminal on the north-eastern end of the island.
People criticized the removal of the trees, especially as the environmental destruction was taking place as government ministries celebrated Earth Hour.
“Did you know that it is called hypocrisy when you cut down trees near the artificial beach yesterday and celebrate Earth Hour by switching off the lights at 8:30 tonight?” Twitter user Zahir said.
Another person pointed out that a children’s play area at the artificial beach area was now a construction zone, while someone else replied to an environment ministry tweet about Earth Hour by asking if it knew trees were being cut down.
Malé’s landscape is changing rapidly amid construction projects and infrastructure upgrades.
Last Friday, the housing ministry announced the closure of a public outdoor gym in Rasfannu, the artificial beach area at the western end of the capital.
The gym and a futsal stadium are being closed because the space is needed for hundreds of new sea-facing apartments.
The project, run by Chang Hua Construction of Singapore, boasts luxury apartments, hotels and shopping malls in four 25-storey buildings.
In a separate development, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday fined Rinbudhoo island council MVR255,000 (US$16,498) for cutting down palm trees to make space for a waste collection yard.
However, the island council president told Sun that the council had obtained permission before felling the palm trees.
“The EPA informed us that we can use that land. After that we started clearing the area. That is not a protected area. We removed about 30 palm trees, out of which 20 were re-planted elsewhere,” Hathim Ibrahim said.