Chief Monk in fast unto death over water contamination by factory

Tuesday, 30 July 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Dharisha Bastians Residents in Weliweriya led by a chief monk in the area launched fast unto death last night after talks with Government and a private company to resolve a groundwater contamination crisis in the area broke down. The residents are demanding that the authorities provide pipebourne water to the area free of charge and a relocation of the factory involved. Officials from a privately owned industrial plant implicated in the alleged contamination crisis in the Gampaha District held discussions with residents and environmental officials yesterday on how to resolve the issue. The groundwater crisis has brought villagers out into the streets in Gampaha, after initial testing found that the water was unfit for consumption or contact with human skin. The factory in question is run by DPL Products Ltd, a glove-making plant that is a subsidiary of the Hayleys Group. Group Chairman Mohan Pandithage told Daily FT that a meeting was being held at the District Secretariat last evening, where Government representatives, Central Environmental Authority officials, representatives of the company and residents from the area were holding discussions. “We will have to wait for the outcome of that meeting to go forward,” Pandithage said. Demonstrators from villages surrounding Rathupaswela in Weliweriya Gampaha, led by Chief Incumbent of the Galoluwa Sri Sambudijayanthi temple Ven. Theripaha Siridhamma Thero have blocked the Kaduwela-Nawnuwara Road demanding that a private industrial plant that is allegedly polluting the groundwater in the area with its waste materials be removed from the location. Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva who visited the site yesterday vowed to intercede on behalf of the protesting villages and if his attempts were unsuccessful to join the demonstration himself. He would take up the issue with Minister Basil Rajapaksa whose electorate is also Gampaha, Minister Silva said. “We want our pure water provided to us. We want President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister Basil Rajapaksa to address the issue. We want this industrial plant removed from here immediately. This is an order. Not a reminder or an appeal. It is an order. This factory must go,” the monk leading the demonstration has charged.