X-Press Pearl disaster: FR filed seeking compensation for fishermen | Daily News

X-Press Pearl disaster: FR filed seeking compensation for fishermen

Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda and two fishermen yesterday filed a Fundamental Rights petition in the Supreme Court seeking an order directing the authorities to award Rs. 500,000 per each fisherman severely affected by the X-Press Pearl disaster.

The petitioners had cited Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Fisheries Douglas Devananda, Minister of Ports and Shipping Rohitha Abeygunawardena, chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Marine Environment Protection Authority, X-Press Feeders Company represented by Its Local Agent Sea Consortium Lanka (Pvt) Ltd and several others as respondents.

This petition had been filed through Attorney-at-Law Manjula Balasooriya.

The petitioners state that the X-Press Pearl Vessel was on its way from Indian port of Hazira to Singapore transporting 1,486 containers. The vessel’s cargo comprised of 25 tonnes of hazardous Nitric Acid, Caustic Soda, Sodium Methylate, Plastic, Lead Ingots, Lubricant Oil, Quick Lime and Highly Reactive and Inflammable Chemicals such as Sodium Methoxide, High Density Polyethylene, Low Density Polyethylene, Vinyl Acetate, Methanol, Bright Yellow Sulphur, Urea, Cosmetics etc.

This entire consignment consists of 46 different types of chemicals which are categorized as extremely dangerous goods under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. This ship also contained 300 tonnes of Bunker Oil as well.

The petitioners stated that the fishermen living in Negombo who are largely engaged in fisheries activities are thus severely affected by the contamination of sea areas and loss of fishing grounds due to the acts as well as omissions of the respondents.

The Petitioners state that there are 15 fisheries districts around the marine area of Sri Lanka. In the Western Province, fisheries activities are mainly focused on the areas of Negombo, Wellavidiya, Kudapaduwa, Panadura and Kalutara.

Nearly 6,000 fishermen and families live along the Uswetakeiyawa to Negombo coastal stretch and about 2,000 boats go fishing in the ocean on a daily basis. Around 7,753 fishing families have directly lost their total income as a consequence of the shipwreck while another 2,130 families who were employed in other fisheries related activities such as drying fish and fish netting have also lost their income.

The Petitioners further state that their livelihood is threatened due to this environmental restriction imposed by the Government as they upkeep their lives owing to their daily wages as fishermen who go to sea daily. Thus as a result of this they were unable to carry out their everyday fishing activities for nearly a fortnight. The petitioners fear that they will likely suffer this for years to come. The petitioners are seeking a declaration that the respondents have violated the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Article 12(1) and 14(1) (g) of the Constitution.


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