EPA takes legal action against Afcons for unpaid MVR 69 Million fine over reef damage

09 Feb 2024 | 13:46
The bridge platform that ran aground on Villimale’ reef

In a decisive move, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced its decision to sue India's Afcons Infrastructure for failing to pay an MVR 69 million fine for damages inflicted on the Vilimale' reef.

The environmental incident occurred on August 16, 2022, when Afcons' self-elevating platform, Yuvraj, used in the construction of the Thilamale' Bridge, wrecked on the Vilimale' reef, causing significant harm to an estimated 2,755 square meters of the delicate ecosystem.

Despite the EPA's survey revealing four large craters on the reef as a result of the incident, Afcons appealed the imposed penalty.

The appeal, directed to the then Minister of Environment, Aminath Shauna, took almost a year for review in 2022.

However, in November 2023, the Minister upheld the EPA's decision, emphasizing that preventive measures could have been taken by Afcons to avoid the damage.

The Minister also highlighted the crucial role of the fine payment in supporting the EPA's ongoing environmental initiatives.

Following the unsuccessful appeal, Afcons pursued a Civil Court case, seeking relief from the imposed penalty.

The EPA, not willing to relent, is now preparing to escalate the matter to the Attorney General's Office for a lawsuit.

The original deadline for Afcons to pay the fine was within 30 days, subsequently extended to November 2023.

However, the company has yet to fulfill its financial obligation, prompting the EPA to take further legal action.

The EPA's director general, Ibrahim Naeem, confirmed on Thursday that the agency is actively working on preparing the case for litigation.