Water protest turns violent

A protest over contaminated water in Gampaha turned violent this evening when the army was deployed to disperse the crowd blocking the Colombo – Kandy main road.

The protesters objected to the army presence and even attacked some journalists who were covering the incident.

Earlier the porters blocked the Colombo – Kandy road at the Belummahara junction preventing the vehicles from going by.

As the protest continued and traffic was affected the army was deployed to disperse the protesters and the situation then turned violent.

Earlier today a black flag protest was staged in Weliweriya, Gampaha over the contamination of drinking water as a result of chemicals released from a factory. The factory however insists it has nothing to do with the contamination.

Shops in the area were closed while a monk who protested and called for the factory to be removed, resumed the protest today after suspending it earlier.

From Weliweriya the protesters moved to the Belummahara junction blocking the traffic movement between Kandy and Colombo.

The chief incumbent of the Galoluwa Buddhist Temple, the venerable Theripaha Siridhamma Thero had launched a fast unto death on Monday after talks held with the authorities to resolve the issue had failed.

The drinking water in the area is believed to have been contaminated from chemical waste released from a gloves factory in the area.

A five kilometer area is said to be contaminated and one resident told the Colombo Gazette that he even uses filtered water to have a bath.

The venerable Siridhamma Thero said that the residents in the area are demanding that the factory be shut down and safe drinking water assured to them.

Talks were held on Monday between government officials, the monk and public representatives in order to resolve the issue.

However the venerable Siridhamma Thero said that the talks had failed and so he had decided to launch a protest.

He suspended the protest later but resumed it today. (Colombo Gazette)

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