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Afcons appeal to Environment Minister over reef damage fines

Lamya Abdulla
13 December 2022, MVT 08:21
(FILE) Compilation of damages caused to the reef after the Afcons platform ran aground to the Vilimale reef -- Photo: EPA
Lamya Abdulla
13 December 2022, MVT 08:21

The Indian company Afcons Infrastructure has appealed the MVR 69 million fined against them over damages caused to the Villimalé reef by their equipment, at the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology.

The platforms used by Afcons to conduct a geo-technical survey ran aground on the reef on 16 August, 2022.

Afcons, the company developing the bridge between Malé and Thilafushi, stated that there was a delay of 12-days between the incident and towing the platform due to bad weather. The delay had caused extensive damage to the reef, resulting in deep holes in the reef area.

Even though the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) issued a fine of MVR 69 million against the company, Afcons refused to accept the report that led to the fine.

EPA even allowed Afcons to conduct their own survey. However, no further details were disclosed after after the agency stated that it would complete the legal formalities associated with the report and discuss it with both parties.

Mihaaru news confirmed that Afcons appealed the fine with the Minister of Environment, Aiminath Shuana. They had requested a reduction or a revision of the fine.

Under regulations regarding damages to environment, the fines issued by EPA can be appealed to the environment minister.

Once an appeal has been fined, the minister has the option of accepting the appeal and reducing the fine.

When large fines were issued due to environmental damages, attempts have been made in the past to appeal these cases to the minister. In March of this year, the environment ministry refused to lower the fine issued over damages caused by a tugboat and a barge ship that ran aground on the Fushidhiggaru reef in Kaafu atoll. They were ordered to pay the fine of MVR 100 million in a period of 15-days.

The government has come under scrutiny for failing to take appropriate action three months after the platform ran aground on the Villimalé reef.