Tory MEP linked to water pollution scandal in Sri Lanka
Posted on April 5th, 2019

Courtesy Morning Star (UK)

Nirj Deva (left) at the European Parliament

THE owners of a power station in Sri Lanka linked to a Tory MEP have been fined tens of thousands of pounds by the country’s supreme court for polluting local water supplies.

Nirj Deva, Conservative MEP for South East England, was a director of Northern Power Station’s parent company MTD Walkers plc for six years from February 2012 to August 2018.

His declarations of financial interests filed at the European Parliament show that at times he received up to €5,000 (about £4,300) a month from the firm.

On Thursday, Sri Lanka’s supreme court ordered Northern Power to pay 20 million rupees (about £87,000) in compensation within the next three months.

The power plant, which uses diesel and heavy fuel oil, is based in Chunnakam on the island’s Jaffna peninsula.

The judges said the penalty was designed to offset at least a part of the substantial loss, harm and damage caused to the residents of the Chunnakam area by the contamination of groundwater.”

The judges found that much of the pollution took place between 2008 and 2012.

This was before Mr Deva joined the parent company, and the power station then took steps to reduce pollution.

The judges noted that by October 2012, the station had installed Oil Traps, Gravity Oil Separators and a Sludge Tank which were designed to remove oil content from wastewater prior to
wastewater being discharged into the surrounding environs.”

However, they said the station still had shortcomings in the waste management system” as late as July 2015.

The flaws were exacerbated during periods of rain” when runoff could bypass the plant’s waste management system and directly enter the storm water drains which were then discharged onto adjacent lands.”

The petition before the supreme court was brought by Ravindra Gunawardena Kariyawasam, chairman of the Centre for Environment and Nature Studies.

The pay-out will go to at least 500 local residents although judges said a larger number of people may have been affected.

They said: This is an appropriate case to apply the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle.”

Mr Deva and MTD Walkers are not named in the judgment and there is no suggestion that Mr Deva is personally responsible for any pollution.

Mr Deva said in a statement: I had no knowledge of this matter.

I resigned from the company some time ago as I was dissatisfied with the way it was being run by the Malaysian owners. Ninety-five per cent of the company is owned by a Malaysian family, who dominate the board of directors.

As an independent director I sadly found it impossible to assert my 40 years of knowledge of good governance in business practice upon the company. And therefore I resigned.

There have been erroneous claims that I own this company, these are totally wrong.”

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