|Category||Right to Water, Right to Health|
|Date of Judgment||11-11-2013|
|Link / Attachment||View Attachment|
The factory at the center of the controversy is Dipped Products Ltd (DPL) owned by the Hayleys Group set up in 1994 in Nedungamuwa, Weliweriya, as a BOI project. The plant manufactures Latex Gloves by processing natural rubber, which involves many chemicals. As a result, the processes generate many harmful industrial waste that require treatment to dilute their harmful nature, before release into the environment. There is a provision that the BOI can issue Environmental Protection Licenses (EPL) under the National Environment Act, after obtaining concurrence from the CEA, and the factory has been offered initial EPL.
The problem in Rathupaswala emerged when villagers requested the Water Supply and Drainage Board (WSDB) to test the water, after several of them had fallen ill, as they felt something was wrong with the quality of water. Results revealed that the pH level of the water was lower than 7 (normal), which means it is acidic. Pure water has a pH very close to 7; but the water in Rathupaswala had a PH level around 4, as alleged by the villagers.
Villagers then lodged a formal complaint at the regional office of the CEA in Gampaha. CEA Director General, Dr Saranga Alahapperuma talking to the Sunday Times confirms that the agency’s Gampaha regional office has received a formal complaint on July 16, and next day they sent a team to investigate. Later, a BOI investigation was started. The DG said that an investigation of this nature takes at least a fortnight for the results.
Unfortunately, on Thursday August 1st 2013 afternoon, the residents got on to the street demanding that the factory be closed down. They also resorted to blocking the entrance to the factory premises demanding that the authorities provide a solution to the problem. The Army fired live bullets at the crowds taking 3 lives.
[excerpt from judgement]
a) Issue of notice of this application on the Respondents in the first instance.
b) Grant and Issue an order in the nature of Writ of Mandamus directing the Central Environment Authority and the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka to take legal action against the Venigros Pvt. Ltd against the pollution of the Inland waters and soil of Sri Lanka and for violating the terms and conditions of the EPL in the performance of the statutory duty in compliance with the provisions particularly Sections 10, 10 (1), 23H and 23N of the said National Environment Act.
c) Grant and Issue an order in the nature of a Writ of Mandamus directing the Central Environment Authority and the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka to take necessary steps to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment or Initial Environment Examination to decide the Environmental Impacts of the Venigros Pvt. Ltd in the performance of the statutory duty in compliance with the provisions particularly of the Part IV C of the National Environment Act or
d) Grant and Issue an order in the nature of a Writ of Mandamus directing the Central Environment Authority , the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and Venigros Pvt. Ltd to relocate the Factory owned by the Venigros Pvt. Ltd in consideration of the conclusion f the National Water Supply and Drainage Board that aforesaid “Factory is located in an elevated area which is an unsuitable location which would carry contaminates with the ground water flow” and minimize the soil pollution and water pollution in performance of the statutory provision particularly section 10 and 10(1) of the said National Environment Act.
e) Grant costs of this application
f) Grant such other and further relief as court shall seem meet.