Sri Lanka’s top rubber glove maker and exporter, Dipped Products PLC of Hayleys Group has rejected the accusation that its factory is responsible for water pollution in the Weliweriya area.
Issuing a statement following the public protest over the water quality in the villages surrounding the factory, the Managing Director of Dipped Products Dr. Mahesha Ranasoma expressed his grave concern over the misconception that its factory located in Nedungamuwa, Weliweriya is causing environmental and water pollution.
“We as a conglomerate that follows ethical procedures to deliver quality products as well as service with utmost care condemn the accusations made by such people and take this opportunity to affirm our Quality Control Procedures,” the statement said.
The company which manufactures latex glove products and exports them to more than 70 countries in the world is a key foreign exchange earner for Sri Lanka.
According to the company, Dipped Products PLC accounts for 5% of the world’s production of non-medical rubber gloves of which the factory in Nedungamuwa produces nearly 45%.
The Managing Director noted that the residents are under the impression that the factory waste has increased the acidity of the water resulting in a low pH value but the tests conducted by the National Building and Research Organization show that the pH level of the treated water released by the factory falls between 6.5 and 8.2 and within the accepted standards.
“Our effluent water quality is regularly tested by the National Building and Research Organization and our facility operates with valid Environmental Protection Licence,” Ranasoma said.
The company has also received ISO 14000 certification which shows that the factory complies with all environmental guidelines.
Ranasoma explained that low pH of the ground water could be due to natural factors such as the dissolved carbon dioxide as well as iron oxide predominantly present in the area neighbouring the factory and said more information on the company’s practices can be presented upon request.
Before the protests turned violent on Thursday the company had many discussions with interested parties including residents, health officials, and political leaders of the area in a friendly and hospitable manner and there was no indication of violence, the company official said expressing suspicion that violence was instigated by certain groups with hidden agendas.
“We have reasonable suspicions that this incident is being aggravated by certain parties with hidden political agendas who are seeking to bring our company to disrepute and tarnish the good image that Dipped Products PLC as a part of the Hayleys Group has so successfully built up over the years,” he said.
As unrest escalated, the company had held discussions with several officials including defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and decided to halt production while an investigation into finding the reasons for low pH water in the wells is conducted by the government agencies.
Thursday’s protests by the residents of Weliweriya and neighboring villages turned deadly when the Army, called in to assist the police to control the tense situation, fired on to the crowd killing a 17-year old student and injuring 29 people. Another teenager who was injured Thursday died of his injuries on Saturday.
The Managing Director said Dipped Products is prepared to offer whatever support required to ensure that a full and fair investigation is carried out.
“We also urge the responsible authorities concerned to conduct their investigation in a speedy manner so that our good image can be restored.”
“I would like to express my deep disappointment towards those who are trying to fulfill narrow political agendas by creating a violent atmosphere and urge them to cease these hostilities and work with us towards achieving a solution that are beneficial to all parties concerned,” the Managing Director said in his statement.-Colombo Page