By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): Almost two years after the sinking of the cargo ship the X-Press Pearl after ignited in the vesal, Sri Lanka is still trying to claim compensation for the environmental damage caused to the island nation.
When the Sectoral Oversight Committee met earlier this month, the members of the expert committee appointed to calculate the full extent of environmental and other damages pointed out that the inability to go near the ship or inside the ship caused some obstacles to assess the environmental damage.
The members of the expert committee pointed out that even though they prevented going near the ship by pointing out that it was dangerous, they should have taken the assistance of the Navy and Air Force to facilitate it.
An expert committee investigating the extent of damage to the country’s marine and coastal environment has now concluded the disaster to be the worst in terms of chemical and plastic pollution of the sea.
That’s according to Ajith de Alwis, co-chair of the X-Press Pearl damage assessment committee and a professor of chemical and process engineering at the University of Moratuwa.
The committee has submitted its assessment report to the Attorney General’s Office for use in claiming compensation from the Singapore-based operators of the ship.
“However, the report is only the first edition of the damage assessment, and further assessments would continue based on the monitoring,” De Alwis said
Maritime law expert Dan Malika Gunasekera said Sri Lankan authorities have taken a long time to file for compensation and are reluctant to go through years of strenuous legal battles in international courts.
Sri Lanka has obtained an interim payment of $3.7 million in damages, but the country could claim as much as $5 billion to $7 billion, according to Gunasekera.
Therefore, the Committee Chair MP Ajith Mannapperuma instructed the Maritime Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) and the NARA Institute to expedite these activities as the inability to obtain these samples from the vicinity of the ship may be disadvantageous in the compensation claim case.
There was also a discussion regarding the prosecution of the ship in question. A group of lawyers including environmentalists pointed out only 45 days left to file a lawsuit and that it is disadvantageous to file a lawsuit in Singapore as per the Cabinet approval received.
The report of the expert committee related to the compensation of USD 6.2 billion has been forwarded to the Attorney General’s Department by the Maritime Environmental Protection Authority and that the prosecution should be done by the Attorney General’s Department.
According to the statement, the representatives of the Attorney General’s Department said that based on the report, they will promptly file a lawsuit to get the relevant money in compensation.