Environment Minister reviewing AFCONS appeal against fine

The Environment Minister is reviewing an appeal against the decision to impose a heavy fine on India's AFCONS Infrastructure for the damages caused when a platform used by the company ran aground Villimale' Reef.

State Minister at the Environment Ministry, Ali Solih, told AVAS that Minister Shauna was reviewing the case.

AFCONS is the developer of the Maldives' second overwater bridge that links Male', Vilimale', Thilafushi and Gulhiifalhu. A platform used by the company for the construction of the bridge ran aground Villimale' reef on August 16, injuring three. The platform was refloated on August 27, eleven days after it ran aground, amid heavy public criticism over the delay in refloating the platform. While the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) assessed the damage caused to the reef and prepared a report on its findings, AFCONS rejected EPA's report, prepared its own report on the damage, and submitted it to the EPA.

In November, EPA fined AFCONS MVR 69 million after considering reports submitted by both parties following a joint EPA-AFCONS survey to look at the affected area of the reef. EPA said an area of 2,755 square meters was damaged in the sea accident. AFCONS was granted a period of 30 days starting from November 13 to pay the heavy fine. On December 12, AFCONS appealed against the fine to Environment Minister Aminath Shauna, as allowed under the Environmental Damage Penalties and Compensation Regulations. The Environment Minister holds power to reduce the fine amount.