Sri Lanka can recover over US $1 billion in compensation claims for maritime pollution caused by the Singapore-based cargo ship X-press Pearl, according to preliminary estimates from environmental economists and international maritime law experts.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe during his ‘economic recovery speech’ in Parliament on Thursday has said that when the Government receives the compensation money from the ship concerned, it will be used to fortify the Central Bank’s foreign reserves.
When Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) Chairman Attorney-at-Law, Darshani Lahandapura was asked how far they had progressed in getting the compensation claim, given the importance of it under the current economic situation in the country, she said that she was pleased when she learned on Thursday that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had spoken about it in Parliament.
“We are working closely with the ship’s insurance company, The London Protection and Indemnity (P&I) Club. We have secured the services of an expert Australian legal firm to work on the environmental damages,” she said.
“An expert team of 40 professionals, comprising professors of all the universities in the country, are working on the damages. It has been a full-scale academic exercise, and it is for the first time Sri Lanka is dealing with a huge maritime pollution case of this scale,” she said.
“The claim for maritime damage will be huge.
The ship owners are still clearing the wreckage,” she said.
The Attorney General is consulting Australian legal experts on marine pollution regarding the damage claims.
Even international marine environmental legal experts are working on the damages and its long-term effects,” she said.
She said that environment economists and maritime law experts have dubbed the ‘X-press Pearl’ sinking as the most extensive plastic pollution in maritime history.
“This matter is globally discussed. We have had many meetings at the Presidential Secretariat about it,” she said.
“We will soon submit the evidence to the insurer. We await international laboratory reports on the subject to be produced to the ship’s insurer,” she said.
Article Courtesy: the Sunday observer