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Maldives Moves Forward With Land Reclamation Project Despite Environmental Concerns

Maldives Moves Forward With Land Reclamation Project Despite Environmental Concerns

The low-lying island nation of the Maldives is looking to alleviate a shortage of land and help protect against rising seas with a new land reclamation project.

Van Oord, a Dutch firm specializing in land reclamation, will add 480 acres of land to the southern atoll city of Addu at a cost of roughly $147 million, with the land supporting three new resorts. By one estimate, Van Oord will dredge close to 7 million cubic meters of sand from a lagoon in the middle of Addu to build up the atoll.

“[Addu] needs economic change, and it needs to have land,” Ali Nizar, mayor of Addu City, told The Guardian. “With this project, we will have enough land for the next 50 to 100 years.”

Environmentalists called for halting the project after an environmental impact assessment found it could bury 52 acres of corals and 297 acres of seagrass around the Addu atoll, a UNESCO reserve.

Nizar defended the plan, saying, “Any kind of project would have damage to the environment but what we have to do is take measures to minimize it.” Still, he said, “It’s a difficult decision that we have taken.”

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