The Defence Ministry ordered a two week shut down of the plant, after weeks of demonstrations by residents who are accusing Venigross of having contaminated the ground water in the area with its chemical waste.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa who met with residents and company officials on Monday (12) agreed to permit the plant to reopen in order to meet its export orders. In the long-term, the President has pledged to relocate the factory to a BOI zone.
Initial Government testing has found the water in the area to contain high levels of acidity that makes it unsuitable for drinking. Private testing by residents have revealed that the pH levels of the water in the region is 3 or 4.
Water tanks and bowsers promised to Weliweriya and surrounding villages are stationed along main roads, with large labels on them denoting that they have been donated by the Economic Development Ministry run by Mr Basil Rajapaksa or other political contributors, residents in the area say. Some residents sat they have to walk long distances to the nearest water tank. The Water Board has commenced laying of pipes to supply pipe borne water to the village.
Meanwhile the army report on the Weliweriya incident has been delayed and will be only released next week. Army Commander Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake appointed a special board of inquiry headed by Major General Jagath Dias to investigate the army role in the clashes. The Board has informed the Army Commander it wanted more time to prepare a detailed and systematic report. The Board of Inquiry was vested with the responsibility of preparing a report after looking into the army’s code of conduct during the Weliweriya incident on the 1st of August. The Board was initially granted a period of two weeks to prepare the report.