K. Male' | Aishath Shaany | 05-March-2017 | Sunday 09:19 | Shaaknee | Local |
While the government has remained mostly silent over the reported sale of an entire atoll to Saudi Arabia, Minister of Housing and Infrastructure, Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has indicated plans of relocating people.
While the Minister did not confirm the sale of Faafu Atoll, Muizzu, in an interview with the Guardian, said that the development of the atoll “is not selling sovereignty.”
“We hope it is a big investment. We don’t want to move slowly. We want transformational change. We want to bring better living conditions to the whole country over a small period of time,” the Minister told Guardian.
Muizzu claimed that it is “not sustainable” to provide all necessary facilities to all the islands, noting that a lot of investment is needed to do so.
Highlighting that some of the islands have “just a few hundred people,” Muizzu said that “it is not feasible to keep them there,” adding “a lot of islands face erosion and ground water contamination.”
“The priority will be the capital of atolls,” he said.
Muizzu also emphasized that the relocated families “will be offered free houses on larger islands.”
He told the Guardian that “nearly one in three” of the 185 inhabited islands “may have to be abandoned with thousands of people relocated to larger islands which can offers schools and health clinics as well as fresh water and waste facilities."
After relocating the people, Muizzu said the smaller islands could be handed to developers, hinting that they will used “for tourism.”
Reports of the possible sale of Faafu Atoll has caused controversy in the Maldives, with the public expressing their vehement discontent over the matter.
President Abdulla Yameen had, in February, revealed that proposed development of Faafu Atoll will bring in USD 10 billion into the country, adding that the details of the deal will be released "when it is appropriate to do so."
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has sought details of the project from the Parliament Public Finance Committee, and has also passed a motion to recover any land sold off by President Yameen's administration.
While Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud is to visit Maldives this month as part of his Asia tour, it is reported that the Faafu Atoll agreement will be smade official during the visit.
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