President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has announced a new land allocation initiative targeting long-term residents of Malé City. The announcement was made at a campaign event hosted by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). 

As part of this scheme, individuals who have resided in Malé for two decades or more are eligible to own land in several designated areas, including the contentious Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) site. 

The president encouraged all those meeting the criteria to apply, emphasising that land ownership will be granted “without discrimination.” Under this new project, a series of bridges will connect various locations to form a contiguous stretch of land from Malé to UTF. 

Specifically, Malé will be linked to Villingili, which will in turn be connected to Gulhifalhu, Thilafushi, Giraavaru Falhu, and finally to UTF. The president was explicit in stating that the allocated land would be for Maldivians, not foreign nationals. “Maldivians will live there. Not foreigners,” Solih assured.

The UTF site, where the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) is constructing a harbour and dockyard, has been subject to controversy. An agreement was signed with India in February 2021 to develop a special harbour for the MNDF Coast Guard at UTF. 

The terms of this agreement have not been publicly disclosed, attracting heavy criticism from the opposition. Accusations that Indian soldiers are present on the site have fuelled further debates.

President Solih’s new land allocation project has thus been announced amidst a climate of scepticism surrounding the UTF development. Critics argue that not revealing the specifics of the India-Maldives agreement contributes to public mistrust, an issue that has been the topic of opposition claims and has even been propelled them to take top spot in the first round of the presidential elections.