Minister of Environment Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan has expressed a belief that methane fires from the Thilafushi landfill will be curbed by the end of the year.
The Environment Minister made the remarks while answering concerns from the MP for the Kaashidhoo constituency Abdulla Jabir in parliament on Wednesday. MP Jabir had highlighted the issue of unceasing fires on Thilafushi, in addition to the issue of improper waste management and pests on the island. In response, the Minister had revealed that the work to resolve the issues pertaining to Thilafushi would be very costly, and that obstacles presented included lack of organized investment and funding.
The Minister also noted that while Thilafushi island has been used as a landfill and site for burning waste since 1997, accumulated methane gas on the island had resulted in unceasing fires and noxious smoke. He added that it would be difficult to resolve the issue without specialized machinery. The Minister also acknowledged that the site presented many health and environmental risks, as biodegradable waste was also being collected and dumped in Thilafushi, which had created a breeding ground for flies and other pests on the island.
Noting that the fires burning on Thilafushi were the result of the accumulation of methane gas, Environment Minister Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan remarked that experts believed it would be highly dangerous to attempt to curb the fires with water.
Further detailing the issue, the Environment Minister revealed that while the ministry had made arrangements to tackle the issue this year with foreign contractors, their plans had been derailed in light of the global Covid-19 pandemic. He further noted contractor's assurance that the required machinery would be transported to the Maldives by the end of May, and that delays were being presented as it the pandemic made it difficult to bring in foreign experts to train Maldivians to operate the machinery.
Minister of Environment Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan announced that a project was now underway to reclaim 15 hectares of land from Thilafushi. According to the Minister, will be added to previously reclaimed land, and a total of 25 hectares of land would be used to establish a regional waste management facility for the waste accumulated in Zone Two of Thilafushi.