Court refuses to shut down Hayleys Weliweriya factory

Friday, 2 August 2013 03:48 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Gampaha Magistrate yesterday refused to shut down the Hayleys Group glove making factory in Weliweriya which residents in the area are claiming has contaminated the ground water, even as the military was deployed last evening to disperse a major public demonstration over the issue. The Magistrate said it cannot issue an order to close the factory in response to a report filed by the Gampaha Police. The Police are seeking the court’s assistance to determine whether the factory waste was the cause of the contamination of ground water resources in the area.  The military moved in last evening to disperse the residents’ protest which was blocking part of the Kandy Road at Balummahara. Several people were injured in the process, including journalists. Tense situation prompted Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa visit the scene yesterday. He also met with Hayleys Directors. Residents have been protesting against the factory for days, demanding its closure and pure drinking water facilities from the authorities. Yesterday, a black flag protest was conducted in the area, with many shops and business enterprises shutting their doors for the day. At least 10 villages in the Gampaha District have been affected by the water crisis. Four petitions were also filed in court yesterday regarding the contamination issue. The Magistrate said that the claims were not sufficient to issue interim orders to shut down the factory. Reports will be submitted to court tomorrow on tests conducted to ascertain the cause of the contamination in the area. In a filing to the Colombo Stock Exchange and released by the CSE yesterday, Dipped Products PLC said villagers in the area of Weliweriya have been engaging in a campaign to draw the attention of the relevant authorities with regards to the quality of their well water. “Dipped Products is confident that according to technical reports and other research material available on water quality in the Weliveriya area, the said issue is in no way connected with our factory operations in Weliveriya. Although as a precautionary measure, the factory operations were suspended yesterday afternoon, the company hopes to resume operations at the earliest,” the DPL filing said. “We further wish to inform that DPL is fully cooperating with the relevant Governmental authorities and other stakeholders for an early settlement of this matter,” it added.