By Ifham Nizam
Following the recent landmark decision by the Supreme Court to pay compensation to the people affected by the Chunnakam power station, some Tamil politicians in the Jaffna Peninsula were now trying to take the upper hand to strengthen their vote bank, alleged the environmental group that fought for justice of the affected people.
“We took up the matter with all Tamil politicians, including Tamil National Alliance Leader R. Sampanthan but none of them were concerned about the plight of the people,” Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam, National Coordinator, Centre for Environment and NATURE Studies, told a media briefing on Tuesday in Colombo.
He said that justice should be done to the people. “There has been no proper study on health impacts,” Dr. Kariyawasam said.
The leading environmentalist noted that the Supreme Court had, on April 4, ordered the Northern Power Company (Pvt.) Ltd, which operated a thermal power station at Chunnakam to pay Rs. 20 million among the residents of the area for polluting groundwater.
The Court declared that the respondents had violated the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 12 (1) of the Constitution.
The National Water Supply and Drainage Board was ordered to supervise the hand-over of compensation.
Northern Power Company Ltd was ordered by the court to continue operations under the stipulated conditions and in a manner that did not harm the environment.
The order was issued by Justices Priyantha Jayawardena, Prasanna Jayawardena, and LTB Dehideniya after taking into consideration a petition filed by Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam on behalf of the Centre for Environmental and Nature Studies.
The petition, filed in 2015, points out that the oil and grease released by the power-plant contaminates the water in wells located in the area.
On January 31st 2016, the Supreme Court, taking the petition into consideration, issued an interim injunction suspending the operations of the power plant.
Former Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council C.V. Wigneswaran, the NPC and the Attorney General among others were named as respondents in the case.