When we spoke to them, we found that several inconveniences they faced due to the course of action by the companies in the Biyagama Industrial Zone that eventually left the villagers’ day to day lives in a nightmare.
The residents in Pahala Biyagama area drink and use well-borne water for their day to day needs. They were critical of a famous beer manufacturing industry that had dug a huge well in Biyagama in order to obtain water for their beverage manufacturing needs. The residents claimed that all the water fountains in the area have been absorbed by that huge well and consequently the old wells belonging to the residents had dried.
The residents said that all the 150 companies located in the Biyagama Industrial Zone disposed garbage and other effluent substances into the river as a habit. They said that there were several places where empty bottles were heaped in the premises of some companies turning the atmosphere into a potential mosquito breeding ground. Notably, the Biyagama area has been reported with a considerable number of Dengue patients. Residents also said that though the Public Health Officers visited them time to time, the companies did not seem to have halted this practice.
M.G. Nandasena, a resident near the Kelani River had filed a petition with the support of several other villagers in the Western Provincial Council’s Public Petitions Committee regarding the difficulties they were being faced with.
“I was struggling against this crisis since 2000. But, the authorities turn a blind eye to this matter. After the petition, a placement test was ordered by the Biyagama Provincial Council Chairman.
Building our hopes, the officials had visited the companies. But, as we were aware, they had allegedly been given some financial gratifications by the management of high profit yielding companies in order to hide the truth. Nevertheless, I did not give up. I complained to the CEA. I regret to say that they did not take any decision against the wrongdoers after having even visited those places,” he said.
He requested the present Government authorities to pay thorough attention into this matter and resolve it.
“We have solutions. The Government should deploy a representative each in these companies so that he/she could observe daily garbage disposal and process. This can still be addressed. But, the authorities do not take legal action. We all would fall sick as time went on. As we know our law enforcement is inactive until human lives would be dragged into danger. We beg them. Please do something to ensure the safety of our lives without considering temporary political advantages,” he said.
“We don’ know how to recognize heavy metals such as arsenic in the drinking water. But, we are certain that every negative result is due to the carelessness of the administration of the companies,” he said.
Another female resident who lives in Pahala Biyagama said that previously they could obtain water by digging the earth 10 feet below. After that beer manufacturing company’s huge well was dug, they could not get water even at 30 feet below.
“They need water for their beverage manufacturing. As far as we know, one million bottles of beer are manufactured daily, and therefore, we don’t have water to drink. Now, we have to pay and get water. No one is there for us,e specially the politicians who visit us only during the election period,” she lamented. “There had been several instances when the authorities had visited the companies as a result of our complaints. But, we came to know that the companies’ management had tempted them with bribes and kept their mouths shut,” she claimed.
Another resident told us that some of the residents who lived in the vicinity of the factories had struck some deals with the company authorities.“The companies keep asking us to come forward if we were keen to sell our plots of land because they needed more space to expand their business activities. Many of the villagers had agreed to it, since they were given large sums of money, much more than their real value. Now those who sold their lands cannot utter a word against the procedures of those companies,” he said.
Special thanks to Telshan Network (pvt) Ltd (TNL) and Dhananjaya Narambedda