By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): The Bar Association of Sri Lanka and Transparency International Sri Lanka were allowed to intervene in a petition filed by the Centre for Environment Justice in the Supreme Court over the X-Press Pearl Disaster.
The matter was taken up in the Supreme Court before Justices Murdu Fernando, Yasantha Kodhagoda, Shiran Gunarathne, Achala Wengappuli, and Priyantha Fernando.
The Attorney General’s Department strongly objected to allowing Transparency International to intervene in the petition filed over the X-Press Pearl Disaster.
The Supreme Court after considering the totality of the circumstances of the case and the submissions made by the counsel representing the Bar Association, Transparency International and the Attorney General’s Department, issued an order to allow both the BASL & TISL to intervene in the matter.
The Fundamental Rights petition filed by the Center for Environmental Justice (CEJ) and others seeking an order from the authorities to conduct a formal inquiry into the manner in which the X-Press Pearl Vessel entered Sri Lankan waters.
The petitioners allege that X-press Pearl vessel had recently entered Sri Lankan waters which caught fire, and spilled a large amount of chemicals to the sea.
As a result, the sea water, the beach was heavily polluted and the sea creatures were also harmed, the petition said.
The petition also points out that due to the great environmental damage caused, the fishing community has lost their livelihood.The Petitioners allege that no formal investigation has been conducted into the burning of the X-press Pearl.
The petition also seeks an order directing the authorities to pay compensation to the people who lost their livelihood due to the damage caused by the burning of the ship and the chemicals in it into the sea. The petition seeks an immediate inquiry into the manner in which the ship entered Sri Lankan waters.
The petitioners also request the court to direct the authorities to set up a proper mechanism to prevent such accidents in Sri Lankan waters or beyond.
“Sri Lanka Treasury has received $890,000 and 16 million Sri Lankan rupees (around $49,200 dollars) as interim payment for costs incurred by the Maritime Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) and for the affected fisherfolks.
Since the disaster happened, Sri Lanka has received payments totaling $7.85 million. Its government received the first payment of $3.6 million in July 2021. Another $1.75 million followed in January 2022, and a third payment of $2.5 million remitted in September.