Kaashidhoo is located at 4.946° N, 73.465° E, about 85 km (straight line) away from Male / Hulule and is a single island surrounded by its own coral reef (Figure 3). The island is bean-shaped, about 2.9 by 1 km large, oriented SW-NE, and has a square town in the center with two main roads crossing the island. No vehicles are operated on Kaashidhoo, boats land at the inside lagoon / NW-side jetty at a rate of 3-4 dhonis (=two-stroke diesel engine driven, wooden boats) per day, which approach from the south and around the NE corner, about 500 m offshore. No regular speed boat (diesel or gas motor boats) or air taxi (Cessna water aircraft) shuttles approach the island. Transport from Male to Kaashidhoo by speed boat takes about 2 hours, air taxi is expected to take about 20 minutes, dhoni transport takes about 8 hours.
Figure 3: Outline and details of the island of Kaashidhoo. The approximate outline of the town is shown as a grey square, the suggested INDOEX observatory site is market in red, the power house is marked blue, the island’s office in yellow and the different air quality sectors are shown in transparent shades of grey (lighter meaning cleaner) with directions indicated as angles (see text).
The power house is located in the center of the town and the proposed location for the INDOEX observatory is on the NE corner, about 200-300 m away from the settlements, about 50 m away from shore and 150 m away from the reef (no direct sea spray!). Except for the town, most of the island is covered with vegetation, mostly palm trees mixed with some lower trees and bushes. The highest palm trees are found in the center of the island and are about 25-40 years old, up to 10 m high. Other plants are screw pine, sceviola and sea hibiscus. The NE corner has an average foliage height of about 6-7 m and tapers off towards the 1-3 m wide beach. The coral beach is subject to erosion depending on the season (the different monsoons erode one side of the island and accumulate material on the opposite side) but the vegetated area is usually stable.
Currently, the power house uses diesel fuel at a rate of approximately 6000 l per month. Linearly extrapolated, this consumption will go up to about 8000 l/month once the fourth generator is online. Most of the power is used for lighting, cooking is done with kerosine and fuel wood. There is also some burning of trash going on at random times. It was indicated that we could request to minimize this activity and have it restricted to one place on the island, preferably in the exclusion sector (see below).