Locals protesting against the leakage of waste heavy fuel oil by Chunnakam power plant in the Jaffna peninsula, continued their hunger strike into the third day today, demanding immediate action against the contamination of local water supplies.
The hunger strike, which included over 60 local doctors, teachers, university lecturers, village groups and Tamil politicians from both main parties, took place by the Chunnakam Sivan Kovil.
"For the last three years, almost 400,000 litres of oil has been leaking from the Chunnakam thermal power station and seeping into local water supplies," one of the organisers, Dr Senthuran told Tamil Guardian.
"Many efforts have been taken to stop these, but they have not been successful," he said, adding that there was a court case on the issue currently taking place, but the power station continues to function despite growing protests.
Protesters have made three demands: close the power station which caused the oil leakage; an immediate visit by the Minister of Energy and Power in order to resolve the situation; and find a permanent solution to the contamination of water by constructing improved water supplies.
|Locals launch hunger strike - 20 Jan 2015.|
"The oil that has seeped into the ground and spread into surrounding areas such as Tellipalai and Inuvil, is now spreading very quickly into places such as Kokuvil, Suthumalai and Thavady," Dr Senthuran said. "According to our estimates the crude oil spillage could potentially affect the whole of the Jaffna pennisula within around a month."
"The oil is poisonous," he explained, stating that research had highlighted the presence of lead and chromium in water supplies. The harmful effects of the human body often take 15-20 years before coming to light, he added.
"This is going have a disastrous effect on our next generation. There is a chance the whole generation could be affected by drinking this water."
"We don't see any other way to stop this," he said, stating that the hunger strike would continue tomorrow.
The hunger strike is part of growing outcry against water contamination by the power plant.
Earlier this week, school children in Jaffna protested outside the their school entrance, calling for an investigation to be launched. See more here.
On Saturday, the locals in Chunnakam protested outside the power station.
"Water poison is another way to kill people?" read placards carried by protesters. See more here.