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Supreme Court orders Chunnakam power plant to compensate over environmental damage

The Sri Lankan Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the Northern Power Company to compensate residents in Chunnakam, Jaffna for environmental damage caused by the Uthuru Janani thermal power plant which the court claims violated residents fundamental rights.

The court ordered the company to 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.

The company cannot continue with operations until it abides by established environmental standards.

This 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.

Protests and a hunger strike were organised in Jaffna in response to the pollution. 

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," 

Read more here.

In January 2016, the SC took the petition under consideration and issued an interim injunction which suspended the power plants activities until itscomplied with accepted environmental standards.

Justices Priyantha Jayawardena, Prasanna Jayawardena, and L. T. B. Dehideniya were voices on the court who voted in favour of the verdict.

Read more here and here.

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