The Environment Protection Agency assured the public on Tuesday that it would closely monitor the uprooting of coconut palms for the development of a city square on Hithadhoo island in Addu City.
The tree removal was “approved on condition to replant the removed palms elsewhere in Addu,” the EPA tweeted Tuesday, assuring that it would ensure the condition was followed.
But social media users questioned the EPA’s monitoring capacity, posting photos that appeared to show uprooted palms cut into pieces.
The Addu City Square was first developed for the 2011 SAARC Summit held in the southernmost atoll.
The square was left unattended by previous administrations.
“Re-creating Addu City square and hoisting the national flag in Koattey” was part of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s 100-day pledges.
According to the Addu City Council, the new square would include children’s play areas as well as hammocks and other seating for adults. New shady trees would also be planted after the removal of the coconut palms, the council said.
According to regulations, a permit must be obtained from the EPA before removing more than 10 trees. An assessment has to be done for the removal of more than 200 trees.
The rules also require two trees to be replanted for every tree uprooted and transported to another island. But in 2014, an amendment was made to allow cabinet to approve clearance of trees for “development projects.” For every tree uprooted under such a project, six trees were required to be replanted