High pollution levels seen in Sri Lanka’s Kelani river

ECONOMYNEXT – Pollution levels in Sri Lanka’s Kelani River, which provides drinking water to the capital Colombo, are unacceptably high, and it needs to be monitored more closely to ensure early identification of pollution and quick action, a senior conservation official said.

About a quarter of people live in the river basin and the river is not in a healthy situation, Ananda Mallawatantri told a forum held by Biodiversity Sri Lanka, the biodiversity unit of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
“We have a critical need to save the river since we make use of it,” he said. “We have an obligation and responsibility to ensure that the river stays in pristine quality for future generations.”

About 3,000 businesses that need an environmental pollution license are on the river’s banks, said Mallawanantri, country representative of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Sri Lanka.

“That means activity that requires an environmental license,if not handled properly, has a chance of affecting water quality,” he said.

Industry locations are widespread and some are identified as high polluting, with each required to adopt certain levels of precautions in their operations, especially when discharging effluent, he said.

A new Kelani River Management Plan has been prepared to ensure better monitoring of the river to detect pollution from industrial effluent and agro-chemicals.

“It is important to monitor the whole watershed very carefully, periodically and accurately so if anything gos wrong, we’ll know,” Mallawatantri said.

There were two industrial parks in the river basin, but the authorities don’t have a good idea of the daily discharge of effluents from factories in them.

“It is not advisable to wait till the government comes and does everything. There is plenty we can do ourselves.”
(COLOMBO, Oct 13, 2016)





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