Sri Lanka has to pay INR 890 million to the Government of India for the support it extended when the New Diamond and X-Press Pearl vessels were ravaged by fire on Sri Lankan waters, the Minister of Justice, Prisons Affairs & Constitutional Reforms says.

Joining the “360°” political talk show on TV Derana on Monday night (May 22), Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said India has sought reimbursement in writing to the Sri Lankan government.

Speaking further, Rajapakshe said: “The Sri Lanka Navy (SLN), Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) and, at our request, the Indian Navy worked together to douse the flames ravaging the New Diamond ship and to minimize the environmental damage. For the contribution made by the Indian Navy in this regard, they have sought INR 400 million – approximately LKR 1,400 million. These are not rumours. [...] They have asked for INR 490 million for the X-Press Pearl and INR 400 million for the New Diamond.”

On September 03, 2020, the MT New Diamond was engulfed in flames about 65km off the Sangamankanda Point on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka.

An explosion of a boiler in the main engine room had led to this unfortunate turn of events, which resulted in the death of one crew member and a major oil spill.

The tanker was transporting 270,000 metric tons of crude oil from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip at the time of the incident. It was also reported that 1,700 metric tons of diesel required for the use of the tanker were stored onboard.

On May 20, 2021, Sri Lanka witnessed what is considered one of the worst marine environmental disasters after the Singapore-flagged container ship vessel MV X-Press Pearl, only three months after being commissioned, caught fire some 16km off Colombo.

At the time of the incident, it was transporting at least 1,500 containers including 25 tonnes of nitric acid, other chemicals and low-density polyethylene pellets.

The fire that raged for nearly two weeks resulted in a massive spillage of damaged containers, microplastics, plastic pellets, chemicals and other harmful substances into the sea before the wreckage of the vessel sank on June 02, 2021 while being towed away to deeper waters.

It was revealed that the fire had been the result of a reaction of the chemicals being transported on the ship, from which 25 crew members were evacuated safely.

(Ada Derana)

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