The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has slapped a fine of MVR 100 million on a barge that ran aground on the reef of Fuvahmulah in July this year while transporting rock boulders to the erosion-hit section of the island.

The vessel named ‘Olympic Kandilo’ which was carrying rock boulders to the Maldives, under the agency of Mainland Shipping Pvt, had initially evaded authorities, claiming it did not cause any damage to the reef. However, a subsequent survey conducted by the EPA concluded that the barge had run aground the reef and caused significant damage.

The EPA reported that the barge had left the country while the investigation was ongoing and that the case was referred to the police. The state’s environmental watchdog said in a statement that the barge approached a make-shit jetty to unload the rock boulders for Fuamulah’s South Beach Protection Project.

The EPA survey showed that large rock boulders had fallen onto the reef where the barge had run aground, causing severe damages to an area of 4,306 square metres.

The total fines and compensation for the environmental damage caused by the barge was calculated at MVR 162.7 million. However, the maximum fine leviable under the Environmental Protection and Conservation Act is MVR 100 million.

The EPA said it had initiated proceedings, with the assistance of the Attorney General’s Office, to seek compensation for the damage.