Environment Minister: No plans of cancelling reef damage fine on Afcons

Environment Minister Aminath Shauna responds to questions at the Parliament on April 25, 2023. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Environment Minister Aminath Shauna states the Maldivian government has no plans of cancelling the MVR 69 million fine imposed on India’s Afcons Infrastructure for damages to the Vilimale’ reef.

Yuvraj, the self-elevating platform used by Afcons for the construction of the Thilamale’ Bridge wrecked on the Vilimale’ reef on August 16, 2022. It was refloated nearly two weeks later, on August 27, 2022.

A survey conducted by the EPA showed the reef sustained massive damages in the incident, and resulted in four large craters forming on the reef.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined Afcons by MVR 69 million in November 2022.

Shauna, who attended the parliamentary sitting Tuesday, was questioned by Maavah MP Mohamed Saeed regarding the delay in payment of the fine.

Shauna noted that Afcons had appealed the fine. She said that authorities had conducted a legal review in response and were set to conduct an independent technical review as well.

Wrecked bridge platform on Vilimale' reef. (Sun Photo/Naail Hussain)

“Afcons has appealed the case. We have finished a legal review. The legal review recommended an independent technical review. The case is in that stage now,” she said.

She said the government had no plan of pardoning the fine.

Shauna said the EPA has imposed over MVR 600 million in fines for environmental damage over the last four years. She said that the state has received one-third of the fines.

“I assure you this is the highest the government has obtained from fines in Maldivian history,” she said.

EPA’s report shows the wrecking of Afcon’s platform resulted in damages to a 2,755 square meter area of the reef.