No plans to waive AFCONS' fine: Environment Minister

Environment Minister Aminath Shauna has said there is no policy to waive the fine imposed on India's AFCONS Infrastructure for the damage caused when a platform used by the company ran aground the Villimale' reef.

The platform used for constructing the Thila-Male' bridge ran aground Villimale' reef on August 16 last year, 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.

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) assessed the damage caused to the reef and prepared a report on their findings. AFCONS rejected the EPA's report and prepared their 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. AFCONS was granted a period of 30 days starting from November 13 to pay the heavy fine. In December, AFCONS appealed against the fine to the Environment Minister, who holds the power to reduce the fine amount.

The Environment Minister was questioned at Tuesday's Parliament session, and Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam inquired whether the ministry refrained from speaking about the appeal of the AFCONS fine in order to benefit certain people.

In her response, Minister Shauna said the government would not decide anything to benefit certain groups.

"The government will deal with everything in accordance with principles and policies. In accordance with fairness. What I am saying is that we have no intention nor any policy to waive the fine imposed on AFCONS," Shauna said.