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In Sri Lanka’s second city, industry hits water quality, says Anglican teacher

In Sri Lanka’s second city, industry hits water quality, says Anglican teacher

Mr Marasinghage Ruwan Jayaratne, student at Bossey Institute, holds a bottle of water and paper at the theological consultation of EWN-WCC, December, 2014. © Helen Putsman/WCC

05 May 2015

In Sri Lanka’s second city of Kandy, most people get tap water, says Ruwan Jayaratne, a school teacher at Trinity College, an Anglican school in the city.

But water pollution is an issue.

Kandy is in the centre of the island in Central Province and the city has a relatively high elevation of 500 metres.

That means the city is relatively wetter and has cooler temperatures than that of the tropical climate in the rest of the country, especially the coastal regions.

The city is, however, home to major corporations and its industries include textiles, furniture, information technology and jewellery.

“There is therefore water pollution in my area and it is a big issue,” says Mr Jayaratne, a teacher in commercial studies.

“We have industrial pollution, chemical wastes and industrial agriculture uses a lot of fertilisers and chemicals. Some of the chemicals are known water pollutants,” he says.

And being in an agricultural area, there are research centres located throughout the city.

“One of the problems we have is that the water has a high presence of fluorides,” says Mr Jayaratne.“ So the water cannot be used for drinking without being treated. And in one area many people suffer from kidney problems due to consumption of polluted water.”

Mr Jayaratne’s first degree was a B. Comm., followed by a diploma in education and then an MBA. In Sri Lanka, he is engaged in ecumenical relations with Roman Catholic organizations.

“On the banks of one of Europe’s biggest lakes here at Bossey I have not only learned about water but have met and had wonderful exchanges with people from diverse traditions. In Sri Lanka it is hard to meet Orthodox believers.”

A group of 17 people, most of them theologians, but also lawyers and an engineer met at the Ecumenical Institute, Bossey, Switzerland, in a theological consultation on water justice from 8-11 December 2014 to develop a theological framework for water justice. Some of the group told Peter Kenny about the issue of water in the context of their regions, nations and local areas. So did some of the students studying at Bossey. The interviews will be published in the EWN website over the coming weeks.