Friday, August 02, 2013

Crushing the protest against the gloves factory in Nadungamuwa and the idleness of the CEA

Hemantha Withanage

It was amazed to see over five thousand protestors at least in three different locations are protesting against the Venigros Gloves Factory located in Nadungamuva, Rathupaswela near Weliveriya. Men, women and children lead by Theripaha Siridhamma thero were blocking the entrance of the factory, which is responsible for polluting their drinking water sources.

The website of the company claims that they are eco friendly and engage in an ethical manufacturing process. If that is true, why the people in the surrounding villages are blaming them for polluting their drinking water sources and making the water acidic. They claim that men women and children are suffering from various illnesses due to the consumption of high acidic water. They also say that company has dumped the untreated sludge into the lands in the vicinity, which has also contributed to making their water acidic.

The million dollar question is where was the Central Environmental Authority, and public health inspectors all these years. Factory has been established eighteen years ago. I believe they own an Environmental Protection License provided by the CEA. Should CEA staff to be blame for issuing license for some rewards. Or should the company be blamed for violating the conditions.

Whatever, the reason the authorities gave a military solution this afternoon by beating the protestors and crushing the protest with tear gas and rubber bullets. Men, women and children who seek water to drink, were sent home with pain and another lesson of fake democracy.

I heard the factory would also be closed for 2 weeks until the necessary tests are done. But I also heard people don’t trust the testing by the government agencies.

Water is a human right. I believe there was an early and better solution if the environmental agencies in Sri Lanka are live. Contamination of water in ten villages within more than 1 km radius is not something insignificant for the CEA and health authorities to have deaf years.

This is not the first time that Central Environmental Authority is sleeping on its laws and regulations. Politicization of this mammoth agency is the most ill advised decision of the rulers in this decade. This is not the only place that people and the environment is suffering due to the lethargy of the CEA.

It took one life to give such a short-term solution. CEA must know that thousands of other lives are dying due to the idleness of the CEA.

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