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Hanwella villagers complain to HR Commission

2014 Mar 24

By  Kishani Samaraweera

The residents of the Thunnana village lodged a complaint on Friday with the Human rights Commission against the Police Spokesperson SSP Ajith Rohana. The residents also requested a balanced inquiry be conducted on unlawful arrest of protesters.

According to the Padukka OIC, the factory in question is Hanwella Rubber Products which is in the business of glove manufacturing. The factory had been operating in the area for 25 years and has been administered by the Dipped Products Plc (DPL).  The residents of the Thunnana village covering four Grama Niladhari divisions complained that the waste water from the factory was affecting drinking water. They pointed out that it has contaminated ground water. The villagers accuse the factory owners of mixing chemical substances to the water and now it has become unsuitable for human consumption. They also complained that the air is also polluted from the fumes of the Rubber factory.

CEA Director General Saranga Alahapperuma said, “CEA received the first complaint from the Thunnana village in early February. When we received the complaint from the residents, CEA inspected the area and we found out that the allegations made by the villagers are not true. It had no basis. Therefore we could not agree with them to shut down the factory”.

The Director General further elaborating on the situation told The Nation that Hanwella Rubber Products have the requisite license which is the industry protection license. “We continuously monitored the factory from February 10 to 15 noon.CEA did not see any connection between the water pollution and the factory. However when the CEA explained to the residents that the factory is not responsible for the issues they were not ready to admit that. They kept on protesting. The CEA wanted to settle the issue with the villagers and the factory owners. But the villagers never took part in the settlement process,” Alahapperuma said.

Dr: S. Ramesh, a medical practitioner and a resident, speaking to The Nation said, “We suffered from health issues for six years. Authorities never gave us the opportunity to present our side of the story. And now they accuse us of killing the OIC, which we totally deny”.

He also stated that the villagers have been suffering from kidney diseases, wheeze and weaknesses in the nervous system for sometime. S. Ramesh said that the CEA was unable to find the real cause for the health issues in Thunnana. “CEA did find out that there was no link between the factory and the health issues of our village. But they failed to find out the actual cause.”
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