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The Central Environment Authority (CEA) announced that there are no traces of arsenic or heavy metals in the drinking water supplied through the National Water Supply and Drainage Board, an assurance K.H. Muthukudaarachchi, Director General says that he can claim with certainty.

Speaking to The Nation, the Director General cited that the purported test results which reported alarming levels of arsenic up to 4mg per liter of water are false and baseless.
“We’ve launched an investigation into the matter, since such reports influence public opinion,” he said. “The CEA can say with certainty that there are no traces or presence of arsenic in the Kelani River as claimed in those reports.”

He added that he can vouch for CEA reports with personal responsibility because the authority has been aggressively following up on the claims and have found none to date. “The raw and treated water are both tested by the Water Board and CEA periodically, and our results show that there are no traces of arsenic akin to the claims.” When asked of the water contamination on the part of the industries located on the riverside and pollution of the river, he added that the CEA has found 70 industries violating their Environment Protection License.

“We have found that their waste management and disposal systems were not in order and have asked for an immediate environment audit to ascertain if they’ve have been contributing to the contamination of the water,” he said. “It has come to light that several industries along the river are discharging their effluents and the CEA will take action against such companies.”

Alahudeen Ansar, chairman of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board has categorically denied reports by the Center for Environment and Nature Studies that there exists a level of 4mgs per liter of arsenic in several areas of the Kelani River. Head of the CENS Ravindra Kariyawasam made a startling claim that their studies which were confirmed by the tests results affirm that there exist unacceptable levels of arsenic amounting to 4.0 milligrams of arsenic per liter of water.

“Kelani River is one of the most polluted rivers and our tests confirm that there is a presence of arsenic in the water,” he said. “The probable cause of the contamination is due to the release of chemicals from industries bordering the river and in the Biyagama Industrial zone.”

Kariyawasam added that 36 samples of raw water were collected at several sampling locations, all of which were first tested at an accredited laboratory in Sri Lanka. He added that the reports are part of a broader ongoing research by the CENS on the industrial pollution of the Kelani River Based on the ongoing research by the Central Environment Authority, water quality of the Kelani River has been deteriorating over the years, making it one of the most polluted and contaminated rivers. Principal component of those analyses revealed that the river water was negatively impacted by pollutants from anthropogenic sources as well as natural sources.