The state will not waive the MVR 69 million fine imposed on India’s Afcons Infrastructure Ltd. when a platform used by the company in the construction of the Thilamalé Bridge sank into the sea in August 2022, causing significant damage to the Villimalé reef, Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Technology Aminath Shauna has confirmed.

According to a statement released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the confirmation has come almost a year after Afcons, on 7 December 2022, appealed the decision by the environmental watchdog to impose the fine upon surveying damages to the reef.

A report on the incident, compiled by the ministry’s legal team, was completed in January 2023 and was later sent to the National University’s Center for Maritime Studies in May for expert advice, which was offered, and the matter returned to the ministry in July, the ministry said.

“… the Ministry’s examination of the case showed that the contractor had the opportunity to avoid the incident with the necessary control measures. Therefore, there is no reason to revise the penalty imposed by the EPA,” the statement read.

The ministry has also decided to deposit MVR 15 million of the proceeds from the Afcons fines into the EPA’s Environmental Restoration Fund. The government considers it important for the EPA to spend the money, or a portion of it, on environmental restoration. The ministry has also stated that the funds from the fine will be used to repair the damage to the Villimalé reef.

Minister Shauna was summoned to Parliament in April of this year and was asked about the fine. She explained that, although Afcons had appealed, the administration had no intention of waiving the fine.