In the latest controversial environment related issue various local environmental organizations have been leveling serious accusations against Jiffy Products Sri Lanka (Pvt) Ltd for releasing large amounts of waste water in to the Deduru Oya adjacent to their coir fiber factory located in Kobeigane.
These organizations claim that this waste water, containing a high concentrate of nitrate, thereby is endangering the environment as well as causing a serious health hazard for villagers in the area. However Jiffy Sri Lanka (Pvt) Ltd today categorically denied all allegations leveled against them.
Speaking to The Nation regarding the issue Jiffy Managing Director in Sri Lanka Sandeeptha Gamlath said the coir is washed in concrete bunkers and afterwards calcium nitrate is added to it to further process the coir to export standards. He added that the remaining affluent water, rich in nitrate, is further diluted as it is nutrient rich and can be used in cultivation. According to Gamlath all the water thus diluted is used for the 60 acre cultivation land on the factory premises that grows a range of crops such as Coconut, Paddy, Papaya and Banana. “We do not in any way directly discard water to the Deduru Oya” he claimed.
However according to the Director of the Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) Sajeewa Chamikara waste water is not refined in a methodical manner in the factory according to proper international criteria which has proved to be hazardous to residents in the area. “The way waste water is discarded by the factory is completely irresponsible,” he said adding that the residents in areas such as Gurugoda, Mawathagama, Makeliyawa and Bulana have therefore been consuming water high in nitrate for the past five years which can be detrimental to them.
“Water with a high concentrate of nitrate is known to cause kidney and bowel related diseases” he said. Presenting a report compiled by him Sajeewa said the factory discards waste water using three methods. “The waste water is stored in tanks by them and a certain amount is released to the Deduru Oya during the rainy season and the nighttime,” he complained.
Accusations have therefore continued despite a factory visit and check being conducted recently by the North Western Provincial Environment Authority (NWPEA) and Chief Minister of the North Western Province Dharmasiri Dasanayake after which the factory was declared as being environmentally sound.
According to Sajeewa Chamikara the company regularly disturbs the coir fiber to speed up the drying process by using tractors and other mechanical devices. He said that this in turn spreads small particles of coir beyond the factory premises causing severe breathing difficulties in citizens. Environmentalists have also claimed there is serious noise pollution by the factory especially in the night where it reaches extremely disturbing levels.
According to Sajeewa even though there are legal provisions against factories carrying out activities in a harmful manner no action has been taken yet by responsible authorities.
However Gamlath claims all these claims are done at the urging of a competitor due to the fast growth of the company in simply five years. “This is being done by an unbelievably corrupt corporation” he said adding that the company will continue business as usual despite all the allegations.