Not fabulous, not Bali: the dirtiest island in the Maldives

Not fabulous, not Bali: the dirtiest island in the Maldives

Categories: Asia | Ecology | Nature

What does an island where there is not a single piece of free land, with tons of garbage produced daily by the million tourists who come here every year? Throws them out on another island, of course.

The beautiful Maldives, located in the Indian Ocean southwest of the southern tip of Hindustan, is famous all over the world for its wonderful sandy beaches and turquoise-blue water. Few people know about the dirty side of this beauty. Just a few miles west of the capital of the Maldives and one of the most populated islands on the planet Male is the island of Tilafushi, which has a municipal landfill.

Not fabulous, not Bali: the dirtiest island in the Maldives

Not fabulous, not Bali: the dirtiest island in the Maldives

Jamie Cow­an

Tilafushi wasn't always a dump island. In fact, Tilafushi is not even an island. Twenty-five years ago, it was a pristine lagoon. But in December 1991, the authorities decided to build a landfill in the lagoon to cope with the growing problem of recycling garbage produced by the tourism industry.

Not fabulous, not Bali: the dirtiest island in the Maldives

Fizan/Wikimedia

A month later, they started bringing garbage here. Huge holes were dug in the sand, and the garbage that came from Male and other inhabited islands was piled into the pits, which were then covered with a layer of construction debris and leveled with white sand.

Not fabulous, not Bali: the dirtiest island in the Maldives

Hani Amir/Flickr

As the area of Tilafushi grew, the authorities began to lease land for various industries, including boat manufacturing, cement packaging, methane packaging, and large warehouses.

Not fabulous, not Bali: the dirtiest island in the Maldives

Hani Amir/Flickr

Tilafushi now has more than thirty factories, a mosque and is home to about 150 migrants from Bangladesh, who dig through the 330 tons of garbage scattered around the island and arrive every day. So much waste is brought here that the island grows per square meter per day.

Not fabulous, not Bali: the dirtiest island in the Maldives

Dying Régime/Flickr

Some garbage is now floating in the ocean, and it is washed up on the shores of Male. It pollutes many scuba diving spots in the area. Environmentalists also criticize impatient boaters who throw garbage directly into the lagoon, because the unloading procedure can take up to seven hours.

Not fabulous, not Bali: the dirtiest island in the Maldives

Dying Régime/Flickr

Garbage has become such a serious problem that in 2011, the authorities even imposed a ban on the disposal of garbage on Tilafushi. Currently, some of the waste is exported to India for recycling in order to reuse the materials.

Keywords: Sea | Nature | Ecology | Asia | Mud | Beach | Garbage | Beaches | Maldives | Pollution

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