- The Government has received Rs. 720 million as a part of the first interim payment, out of which Rs. 420 million has been allocated to pay compensation for fishermen
By Sheain Fernandopulle
A total of 889 metric tons of waste that washed ashore following the fire on the MV X-Press Pearl has been so far collected, while another such amount of waste packed in about 1,200 jumbo bags has been stored in a storage facility at Pamunugama the Government said yesterday.
Issuing an update statement on the sequence of incidents after the fire at the vessel, the Government said the collected waste had been packed in 42 containers in a yard at Wattala.
“Similarly, another such amount of waste packed in about 1,200 jumbo bags has been stored in a storage facility at Pamunugama area under the control of the MEPA. This waste stored in the temporary storage facilities will be disposed of in an environment-friendly manner in accordance with the relevant regulations after the ongoing legal activities,” the statement underlined.
The beach cleanup activities are done with the support of Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Coast Guard and Civil Defense Force.
The statement also noted that the beach areas in Gampaha, Puttalam and Matara districts have been polluted due to the plastic pellets released from the containers on board MV X-press pearl.
Considering the fishing activities in the affected areas, the Government said an offshore area of 457 sq. km. along 65km coast from Mahaoya river mouth in the North to Panadura in the South was determined by the NARA as the affected area and added the engagement of fishing in the area has been prohibited with effect from May 21, 2021, up to date.
However, the NARA has recommended extending the fishing ban. As a result of the Side Scan Sonar Survey conducted jointly by the NARA and Indian Navy , the fishing ban needs to be continued until the large debris is removed.
Meanwhile, the statement stated that Sri Lankan Government has made two interim claims and the final claim would be submitted by the Attorney General with the legal assistance of Arent Fox LLP from Washington, USA.
“The Government has received Rs. 720 million as a part of the first interim payment, out of which Rs. 420 million has been allocated to pay compensation for fishermen. This is being disbursed to affected persons through respective Divisional Secretariats,” it added.
The MV X-Press Pearl, a Singapore-flagged cargo ship, caught fire while carrying 1,486 containers on May 20. The fire was doused after an extensive joint operation and subsequently the vessel sank off Sri Lanka’s western coast.