Responding to a question posed by a British MP, Elliot Colburn, on investigations into Chunnakam, Jaffna water pollution, Nigel Adam’s, the UK’s current Secretary of State for Foreign Common Wealth and Development Affairs claimed that tests have been conducted and that residents have been offered compensation.
He further stated that the UK government would “continue to engage with local government in the North to ensure these concerns around water management and quality are understood and that measures are taken to ensure clean water”.
In April of last year, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court found that the Northern Power Company had violated residents’ fundamental rights due to environmental damage caused by the Uthuru Janani thermal power plant and ordered for compensation to be paid.
The Supreme Court has ordered that the company pay a total of Rs 20 million for damages caused; with each house receiving Rs 40,000. Compensation will be carried out under the supervision of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board.
This judgement follows a 2015 complaint from the Chairman of the Center for Environment and Nature Study, Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam, who organised a petition and charged the company with violating residents fundamental rights. He alleges the company had contaminated the local well by improperly disposing of waste, oil, and grease deposits.
This complaint was joint with widespread protests and a hunger strike organised in Jaffna.
Dr Senthuran, one of the key organisers of the protest told Tamil Guardian in 2015:
"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,"
In January 2016, the SC took the petition under consideration and issued an interim injunction which suspended the power plants activities until its complied with accepted environmental standards.
Last month, the Disaster Management Centre in Sri Lanka reported that authorities have failed to provide drinking water to the country’s worst drought-hit northern region, in particular Jaffna and Mannar – for over three months.
Read the full statement by Nigel Adam's here.