Paradise lost on Maldives rubbish island

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					News-based English language activities from the global newspaper                                             Page 1

February 2009
Level ≥ Advanced
Style ≥ Individual or group activities
Welcome to the Guardian Weekly’s special news-based materials to support learners and teachers of
English. Each month, the Guardian Weekly newspaper selects topical news articles that can be used to
practise English language skills. The materials are graded for two levels: Advanced and Lower Intermediate.
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Materials prepared by Janet Hardy-Gould

Paradise lost on Maldives rubbish island

Cast away . . . 330 tonnes of refuse arrive on Thilafushi every day Elin Hoyland

                                                                    b Who do you think produces most of the 330 tonnes
Before reading                                                      of refuse?
1   The article is about the Maldives. Work with a                  What is the double meaning of the word ‘cast away’?
    partner and discuss the questions below.
    a Where are the Maldive islands? Which countries are        3 Vocabulary from the article
    they near?                                                    Look at the list of vocabulary from the article. Check
    b What type of islands are they? What do they look like?      unknown words in a dictionary. Find two words
    c What are the islands popular for today? Why?                from the list for each category below.
                                                                  bury                      incinerate
2 Look at the headline, photo and caption of the                  crushed can               junk
  article.                                                        campaigner                toxic
  a What is the island of Thilafushi used as?                     environmentalist          used battery
                                                                  hazardous                 waste                     ≥2
News-based English language activities from the global newspaper                                        Page 2

                                                                                    February 2009

    a nouns with a similar meaning to rubbish            5 “We are seeing used batteries, asbestos, lead
                                                           and other potentially hazardous waste being put
                                                           into the water. These wastes are a source of toxic
    b verbs that describe what you can do with rubbish     heavy metals and it is an increasingly serious
                                                           ecological and health problem in the Maldives,”
                                                           said Ali Rilwan, an environmentalist in Malé.
    c adjectives to describe dangerous rubbish
                                                         6 Despite the growing crisis, Thilafushi remains
                                                           largely hidden from view. Nobody goes there
    d specific items of rubbish                            apart from workers.

                                                         7 Meanwhile, tourism has made the Maldives the
    e people concerned about the problem of rubbish        richest country in South Asia in terms of GDP
                                                           per head – which is about $4,500 – though that
                                                           wealth is thinly spread.

                                                         8 However, almost everything has to be imported.
    Article                                                Most tourists can only be catered for by bringing
                                                           in thousands of tonnes of meat, vegetables and
    Paradise lost on Maldives                              diesel oil every year.
    rubbish island
                                                         9 All this produces what many say is an unsustain-
1   It may be known as a tropical paradise, an archi-      able amount of waste. Every tourist produces
    pelago of 1,200 coral islands in the Indian Ocean.     3.5kg of rubbish and requires 500 litres of water
    But the traditional image of the Maldives hides a      a day.
    dirty secret: the world’s biggest rubbish island.
                                                         10 The lack of space means the Maldives is now “ex-
2 A short boat ride from the Maldivian capital,             porting junk” to India. “Before, the ships that
  Malé, Thilafushi began life as a reclamation              brought our vegetables from south India used
  project in 1992. The artificial island was built          to return empty, but now we are sending them
  to solve Malé’s refuse problem. But today, with           crushed cans, metals, cardboard. They then sort
  more than 10,000 tourists a week in the Mal-              them out and get cash for them,” said Rilwan.
  dives adding their waste, the rubbish island now          Randeep Ramesh
  covers 50 hectares.

3 So much is being deposited that the island is
  growing at one square metre a day. It has be-            Glossary
  come home to 150 Bangladeshi migrants who sift
                                                           archipelago (noun) a group of islands
  through the mounds of refuse.
                                                           to sift through (phrasal verb) to look through a number
                                                           of things and separate them into groups
4 Environmentalists say that more than 330                 landfill site (noun) an area of land where large amounts
  tonnes of rubbish is brought to Thilafushi a day.        of waste are buried
  The rubbish is sifted by hand. Some of the waste         alarming (adjective) very worrying
  is incinerated but most is buried in landfill sites.     a source of (noun) a thing or person that causes some-
  There is, say environmental campaigners, also            thing, especially a problem
  an alarming rise in batteries and electronic waste
  being dumped in Thilafushi’s lagoon.
News-based English language activities from the global newspaper                                             Page 3

                                                                                        February 2009

                                                               d How much rubbish does a tourist produce every
While reading                                                  day?
1   Read the first seven paragraphs of the article. Put
    yes (Y) or no (N) next to the statements. Underline
    where you find the information in the text.
    The island of Thilafushi . . .
    a    is near the capital of the Maldives.
    b    is a natural coral island.
    c    was built to help India’s rubbish crisis.
    d    is getting one square metre bigger every day.
    e    has no population.
    f    has dangerous chemicals in its lagoon.                e What did the ships from India do in the past? What
    g    is easy to see and visit.                             do they do now?

2 Read the rest of the article from paragraph 8
  onwards. Answer these questions.
  a How does the Maldives compare to other countries
  ins South Asia?

                                                               After reading
                                                           1   Active or passive
                                                               Complete the summary with the correct form of the
                                                               active or passive of the verb in brackets.
                                                               The Maldive islands (a)
    b How is the wealth distributed in the country? What
                                                               (know) as a paradise holiday destination but news sto-
    does this mean?
                                                               ries in recent weeks (b)
                                                               (show) the negative side of mass tourism. Over 10,000
                                                               tourists (c)                         (visit) this popu-
                                                               lar country every week and each person (d)
                                                                                         (produce) more than 3.5kg of

                                                               In 1992 the artificial island of Thilafushi (e)
                                                                                            (build) to help solve the
                                                               country’s rubbish problem. Every day a large amount
    c What does the Maldives now import and export?            of refuse (f)                            (take) there by
                                                               boat and now the island (g)
                                                               (grow) rapidly.

                                                               The waste (h)                           (sift through)
                                                               by Bangladeshi migrants who
                                                               (i)                         (live) on the island. Some
                                                               items of rubbish (j)                           (send
                                                               back) to India where they (k)
                                                               (sell) for cash.
News-based English language activities from the global newspaper                                                                                             Page 4

                                                                                                                                 February 2009

2 Collocations                                                                                2
  Look at this adverb/adjective collocation from the
  . . . it is an increasingly serious ecological and health
  problem (paragraph 6)

    Find two more adverb/adjective collocations in the                                        3
    text to match these meanings:
    possibly dangerous
    mostly out of sight
    Put the following adverb/adjective collocations into
    the sentences below.                                                                      4
    completely untrue, dangerously ill, economically
    disastrous, perilously close, privately furious,
    relatively small, remarkably stable
    a The island is now                               to envi-
    ronmental disaster because of the toxic waste.
    b The hotels are quiet at this time of year with a
                                number of visitors.                                       Activity — Discussion
    c The president was                                 about
    the bad publicity in all the newspapers.                                              Tourism and the environment
    d Despite global problems, tourists still visit the Mal-                                 1 Decide if you agree (A) or disagree (D) with the
    dives and the economy is                               .                                 statements below.
    e The workers became                                  after                              a     Tourists want to visit beautiful destinations but
    handling toxic waste.                                                                    they often ruin these places.
    f A sudden fall in the number of tourists could be                                       b     Mass tourism is one of the biggest threats to the
                                for this small country.                                      future of the environment.
    g Some local people didn’t believe the stories and                                       c     Tourism is a source of income for poorer coun-
    thought they were                              .                                         tries and it should be encouraged.
                                                                                             d     Governments should help people to enjoy the
    Choose four of the collocations and write your own                                       sights of their own country.
    sentences.                                                                               e     Tourism is important because it promotes under-
     1                                                                                       standing between different cultures.
                                                                                             2 Discuss your ideas in small groups.
                                                                                             3 Devise a holiday with a low environmental im-
                                                                                             pact for your small group. Present and explain your
                                                                                             holiday to the rest of the class.

g completely untrue
vately furious d remarkably stable e dangerously ill f economically disastrous            campaigner, environmentalist.
2 potentially hazardous; largely hidden a perilously close b relatively small c pri-      3 a junk, waste b bury, incinerate c hazardous, toxic d crushed can, used battery e
is sifted through i live j are sent back k are sold                                       desert island. To cast something away means to throw it away.
1 a are known b have shown c visit d produces e was built f is taken g is growing h       2 a A huge rubbish dump. b Tourists. c A cast away is a person left alone on a
After reading                                                                             c Tourism. Because of the warm climate, idyllic beaches etc.
                                                                                          b Low-lying islands surrounded by white sands and clear blue sea.
 3.5kg. e They brought vegetables and returned empty. They take back rubbish.             1 a In the Indian Ocean. Near India and Sri Lanka.
 of people. c They import meat, vegetables and diesel oil. They export rubbish. d         Before reading
 2 a It’s the richest country. b It’s thinly spread. It’s concentrated in a small group
 1aYbNcNdYeNfYgN                                                                                                                                   Answers
 While reading

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