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Monday, 20th April 2015
Re: Amendments proposed to the Maldivian Tourism Act – 2/99
ECOCARE Maldives would like to express our concern on proposed amendments to the Maldivian Tourism Act – 2/99, submitted to Parliament on 6th April 2015. Particularly the amendment proposed to Clause 15 of this Act.
The proposed amendment has a direct conflict with the Environment Protection and Preservation Act – 4/93 especially Clause 5 and 6. We would like to stress that all Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) carried out in the Maldives should be assessed and evaluated by the Ministry of Environment and Energy, particularly by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
If this amendment is carried we fear that there maybe ‘opportunity’ for corruption. Under this particular scenario we also feel that when EPA assess and evaluates EIA reports, it is a more transparent practice than leaving this to the Tourism Ministry, who carry out the evaluation and awarding of bids for tourist resorts.
ECOCARE Maldives request all parliamentarians to consider our concern on this matter and not to allow this amendment to the Tourism Act.
Maldivian Tourism Act – 2/99
The current text reads:
Clause 15: Felling of coconut palms and trees, dredging of lagoon and carrying out such activities.
- Felling of coconut palms and tress on an island or land leased for development as a tourist resort, dredging of the lagoon of such an island, reclamation of land, or any other activity determined by the Ministry of Tourism as may be likely to cause a permanent change to the [natural] environment of such places, may only be carried out after obtaining written permission from that Ministry and in accordance with relevant regulations made by it.
- Any application pursuant to sub-clause (a) of this section for permission of the Ministry of Tourism to carry out dredging of the lagoon of an island or reclamation of land or any other activity that may cause a permanent change to the [natural] environment of such a place shall contain the following;
- evidence that the proposed change is fundamental for the provision of services from such a place; and
- an environmental impact assessment report submitted to and approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Housing and Environment (now Ministry of Environment and Energy)
The proposed amendment to the text reads:
Clause 15: Permanent change to the [natural] environment, land and island
- Any form of development which may permanently change the [natural] environment of an island, plot of land or lagoon, lent for the development of tourist resorts shall be conducted with written permission from the Ministry of Tourism.
- The permission for any development which will change the existing [natural] environment permanently as mentioned in sub-clause (a) shall be granted by the Ministry only after making an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report of that proposed development.
- The authority to decide on matters that will bring a permanent change to the [natural] environment as mentioned in sub-clause (a), and to do the EIA report concerning those matters, and to grant permission for those matters, rests only with the Ministry of Tourism
- All regulations required to be in place under this clause shall be made by the Ministry of Tourism.
Environment Protection and Preservation Act – 4/93
Clause 5: Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)
- An impact assessment study shall be submitted to the Ministry of Planning, Human Resources and Environment (now Ministry of Environment and Energy) before implementing any development project that may have a potential impact on the environment.
- The Ministry of Planning, Human Resources and Environment shall formulate the guidelines for EIA and shall determine the projects that need such assessment as mentioned in subsection (a) of this clause
Clause 6: Termination of projects
The Ministry of Planning, Human Resources and Environment has the authority to terminate any project that has any undesirable impact on the environment. A project so terminated shall not receive any compensation.