Engaging for the first time on the Weliweriya clashes that left three people dead and over 20 wounded, President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided that the glove manufacturing plant residents in the area are accusing of contaminating the ground water will be relocated to a BOI zone.
In the interim however, Venigross Ltd, a subsidiary of Dipped Products PLC, owned by the Hayleys group will be reopened to permit management to meet existing orders. The factory shut its doors at the end of July after water demonstrations in the area reached fever pitch, a decision that was cemented following a meeting between the monk leading the Weliweriya protests, residents and company officials at the Defence Ministry on August 1.
Taking a stand for the first time since the armed forces called in to crush the demonstration in the Gampaha District town allegedly fired on unarmed protestors, President Rajapaksa held discussions with Rathupaswala area residents and relevant officials on the water crisis at the Presidential Secretariat last afternoon.
The President had ordered the relocation of the Hayleys owned plant that has been in the eye of the storm in Weliweriya to a investment zone, even if water tests found that the effluents from the factory was not the source of the contamination, a media release by the Presidential Media Unit said.
If the factory is found to be the source of contamination, the plant would be shut down permanently, the President promised as part of his “solution package” to Weliweriya residents.
The main priority of the authorities in this region will be to ensure that the people receive safe water while the Government Analyst’s Department will carry out testing of the water and issue a report.
Residents and the factory representatives, under the guidance of the President, agreed to allow the factory to make use of the items that have already been produced prior to ceasing of operations and to allow the factory administration to function until the report is published, Presidential Media said.
The residents expressed satisfaction at the agreements reached and agreed to work with officials to help resolve the problem, the President’s Media Unit said.
President Rajapaksa also urged the citizens to refrain from taking the law into their own hands if a problem arises in the future and requested all parties to try their utmost to resolve crises through discussion.
Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Water Supply and Drainage Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Social Services Felix Perera, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary of the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Gampaha District parliamentarians, Western provincial council members, senior military officials and several other high-ranking government officials were present at the discussion.