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Rathupaswela water contamination, Sri Lanka

Venigross Gloves Factory is located in Rathupaswela (about 17 km from Colombo). The factory caused water contamination, affecting twelve villages. People demand clean drinking water.


Venigross Gloves Factory is located in Rathupaswela (about 17 km from Colombo). The factory has caused water contamination in a more than 3 km radius, affecting twelve villages. People affected by the factory demand clean drinking water. Their well water in fact has become acidic and people believe that it was due to the release of acidic effluent.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Rathupaswela water contamination, Sri Lanka
Country:Sri Lanka
State or province:Western
Location of conflict:Rathupaswela, Weliweriya
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific commodities:Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:5,000
Start of the conflict:2013
Company names or state enterprises:Venigross Ltd
Relevant government actors:Central Environmental Authority (Sri Lanka)
Board of Investment (Sri Lanka)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Centre for Environmental Justice (Sri Lanka)
Friends of the Earth (Sri Lanka)
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Street protest/marches
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Violations of human rights, Specific impacts on women, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Violent targeting of activists
On August 1st 2013 local residents held a demonstration and the government deployed the military and killed 3 people, including a 17 year old school boy, Akila Dinesh, and many others got wounded
Development of alternatives:Stopping water pollution caused by rubber gloves factories
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Nothing has been done, yet, it appears, to solve ground water pollution. There have been demonstrations and legal appeals (2014).
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Newspaper article on violent incidents at Rathupaswela and Hanwella (2013, 1014) in demonstrations against water pollution by rubber gloves factories
[click to view]

Asian Human Rights Report (see attachment)

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Press release from Centre for Environmental Justice (Sri Lanka), CEJ and “Siyane Jalaya Syurakeeme Jana Neguma"

file legal action seeking justice for people suffered by water pollution in Rathupaswala
[click to view]

Friends of the Earth
[click to view]

Interview to Hemantha Withanage in Radio Mundo Real
[click to view]

Petition in
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Large scale complaints in Rathuspaswala in TV news, 2013
[click to view]

Other documents

The protest at Weliweriya in 2013 over Rathupaswala water contamination Source:
[click to view]

Asian Human Rights Commission Report
[click to view]

Meta information
Last update06/12/2016
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