Villimale reef has sustained damages during the geotechnical survey of the Greater Male' Area Connectivity bridge project.

The Greater Male’ Connectivity –Male’ to Thilafushi Link Project is a 6.7km sea crossing link from the south-west corner of Male’, running adjacent to the south shore of Villingili, then along the southern periphery of reclaimed land on Gulhifalhu, and terminating on land at Thilafushi.

It is the biggest infrastructure project undertaken in the country and the government had announced that the survey of the project had begun last October.

The survey area includes some parts of Male', Villimale, Gulheefalhu as well as Thilafushi. One of the surveys being conducted in Villimale is the Geotechnical survey which consists of gathering information about the physical characteristics of the soils and rocks that make up the land.

close up shot shows damage conflicted on Villimale reef/ Photo: Ahmed Iyman

Speaking to 'The Press', Director at Environmental Protection Agency EPA Riffath Naeem said that the agency was monitoring the surveying from different levels and that under the Environmental Impact Assessment for the project, the contractor is obliged to share with EPA whether the project is going as per the assessment.

Riffath further said that EPA itself would monitor the impact on the environment and that staff from the EPA are visiting the site and monitoring the damages while also working on what can be done to prevent further damage.

He conceded that such a vast project would leave some damage to the reefs but said that instead of focusing on the damages, all should work on a solution.

But he said that for now little damage has been detected and that EPA had not received an official complaint regarding the damage from any party.

The vehicle that carries workers to the survey platforms travels on the reef/ Photo: Ahmed Iyman

Meanwhile, Housing Ministry had also said that little to no damage had so far been detected on the Villimale reef. The Project Manager from the Ministry's side Mohamed Jinnah said that the contractor had shared the methodology for the survey and that the EIA had been compiled based on this.

Jinnah further said that steps must be taken to minimize the damages to the reef and that the Ministry was monitoring whether the contractor was taking these steps.

Arial picture shows damage conflicted on Villimale reef/ Photo: Ahmed Iyman

Although both authorities have denied that significant damages had been detected, photos taken from the area say otherwise. Drone phones and other pictures show that a large portion of the reef had sustained significant damage as a lot of the coral has been bleached white.

Also, the drilling in the area appears to have made a pile of coral on the reef that now leaves the shoreline of villimale unprotected from high tides.