Govt to file a case claiming damages caused by the X-press Pearl disaster
The government has taken prompt action to expedite the process of filing a case to claim compensation for damages caused by the X-press Pearl ship disaster after more than one year of finalising relevant documents and the environmental damage assessment report.
The Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) says that the environmental damage assessment report prepared for claiming compensation for the environmental damage caused by the X-press Pearl ship disaster will be submitted to the Attorney General before January 15.
The MEPA had previously informed the Cabinet of Ministers that it is advisable to file a case in a Sri Lankan court to obtain the relevant compensation.
More than a year since the sinking of the cargo ship the X-Press Pearl in the island nations territorial waters , Sri Lanka is still grappling to claim compensation of US$ 7 billion from the ship owners which was brought down to $ 4 billion due unknown reasons amidst the delay in finalising relevant documents and proceed with the case.
Meanwhile, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has further discussed the matter during the Cabinet meeting held recently and instructed to file a case before a Singapore Court to obtain compensation for the environmental damage caused by the X-press Pearl ship.
The Chairperson of the MEPA, Attorney-at-law Sudarshanee Lahandapura mentioned that the assessment of the environmental damage has not been completed so far.She further emphasized that no payment or compensation has yet been made for the environmental damage caused by the ship.
The MEPA chaIrperson’s statement was mind boggling because of the conclusion of the report devised by an expert committee investigating the extent of damage caused to the country’s marine and coastal environment.
The X-press Pearl ship disaster is supposed 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 sometimes back for use in claiming compensation from the Singapore-based operators of the ship.
Therefore Lahandapura’s MEPA environmental damage assessment report on the ship disaster came in to the limelight after the President’s directive issued at the cabinet meeting raised eyebrows of many environmental activists
The subject minister Prasanna Ranatunge said some 11,061 fisher families from Gampaha District, 3050 families from Colombo and 701 families from Kalutara were affected by the tragedy. “Some 4888 fishermen have lost their livelihood as a result of the disaster,”
“Some 1726 metric tons of rubble pellets from the ship have been collected till this date, while arrangements have been made to salvage the ship from the sea. The company which owns the ship has given this task to a foreign company.
Also the Minister revealed that former state Minister Nalaka Godahewa and the then Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jayanath Kolambage should take the responsibility of their failure to take prompt action to claim compensations damages caused to Sri Lanka following ship disasters of New Diamond and X-Press Pearl with in the past two years.