Thursday, December 02, 2010

Floods to Court


30 November 2010. A petition, seeking an order to ensure the removal of all the obstacles that create water to stagnate in the Western province, mainly in the Colombo city was submitted to the Western Provincial High Court today by the Centre for Environmental Justice. Recent floods in Colombo is a result of the unplanned activities including filling of wetlands.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

More Paint brands found with high lead levels


Press Release

06th April 2010, Colombo- As a reAdd Imagesult of the continuous research on lead in paint, Centre for Environmental Justice found another three paint brands with high lead levels including a brand which has obtained the SLS standard.

The latest results show that 10 enamel paint samples out of 14 samples tested contain lead as high as 42495 mg/kg. The paints with yellow, green and orange colours contain high lead levels.

It is unfortunate that while most paint manufacturers produce lead free paint for the international market, they still produce leaded paints for the local market. This is a grave injustice for the local consumers.

Therefore we demand all leaded paint to be removed from the local market as well. We also request the paint manufacturers to establish a mechanism to give free advice to the local consumers on safe removal of old lead paint and application of new lead free paint.

We advise all the paint consumers to avoid lead paint and always request lead free paint from the retail shop.

We believe that it is time for the Consumer Affairs Authority and other agencies to accelerate their actions to protect consumers from lead paint.

Lead in paint is highly toxic to the children. Eliminate lead paints and save your child.

Buy only lead free paint this New Year Season.

More information

Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director
Chamali Liyanage, Environmental Officer

Centre for Environmental Justice
Tel: 0112683282 email: info@ejustice.lk

Monday, March 15, 2010

Paint manufacturers must protect children’s health

Appeal to recall all leaded paints in the market

Press Release

15 March 2010, Colombo- We are alarmed by the massive green washing campaign conducted by paint manufacturers regarding the lead in paint research conducted by Toxics Link and IPEN in collaboration with the Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka and ten countries.

“Instead of pin pointing faults of the research, paint industries have a moral responsibility to test their products themselves and bring down the levels of heavy metals including lead, to the acceptable standards for protecting the health of children in Sri Lanka” says Hemantha Withanage of the Centre for Environmental Justice.

The Paint Manufacturers’ Association claims in their advertisement appearing in some news papers on 14th March 2010 titled “The Truth” that they have “collectively undertaken to reduce and eliminate harmful substances in their products portfolio including lead, mercury and chromium to internationally accepted levels.” However, they also say that “we absolve ourselves from paints imported into Sri Lanka as well as manufactured by a large number of unregulated small-time manufacturers.”

We thank Paint Manufacturers’ Association and some individual companies for their active engagement in the aftermath discussions of the launching of research findings. However, as a public interest Environmental Group we are concerned about the entire paint industry. As part of the Corporate Social Responsibility we believe that it is their responsibility to eliminate lead. Therefore, we urge paint companies to eliminate lead in the new decorative paints and also recall all their decorative paint products with high lead concentration available for sale in the market.

Once again we reiterate that 68% of enamel paint samples tested revealed very high lead levels. It was found that some samples contain lead as high as 137, 325 ppm. We also reiterate that no manufacturer or retailer of paints in Sri Lanka can claim that their paints are free of lead without presenting systematic, independent test results that can substantiate such a claim.

We are very much concerned about the dead silence of the Government agencies regarding this matter. It is clear that except some products, others do not adhere to the current SLS standards which were produced in 1990. These voluntary standards are not sufficient for eliminating lead in paint. Lead in paints has poisoned the nation over several decades due to failure of the government agencies to regulate the industry. Once again we reiterate that the Consumer Affairs Authority, Ministry of Health and Nutrition, Sri Lanka Standards Institution should take action to provide mandatory standards and to enact rules and regulations to control the paint industry. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, who is a party to Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) which is a policy framework to foster the sound management of chemicals, should take immediate action to eliminate lead in paints which has affected over 40 million children worldwide.

For over half a century the paint industry has been aware of the grave health impacts that lead in paints has on children who lick baby cots, suckle toys, or simply ingest lead laden household dust. Lead can irreversibly lower IQ, and also cause a series of co-ordination skill deficiencies.

Centre for Environmental Justice

More information pleases contact: Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director and Chamali Liyanage, Environmental Officer. Telephone 0112683282 email: info@ejustice.lk

Monday, March 08, 2010

Mandatory Standards necessary for decorative paints in Sri Lanka

Press Release


08 March 2010, Colombo- This refers to the Lead in Decorative paints Global Study conducted by the Toxics Link and International POPs Elimination Network in collaboration with the Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka and other organisations in ten countries.

The research was carried out only for the randomly selected products of four brands out of dozens of brands available in Sri Lanka. It was found that all samples contain lead in different levels which are as low as 4 ppm to as high as 137, 325 ppm. Except one brand, other enamel paint samples exceed the permitted level which is 600 ppm as per the SLS standards.

No limit has been mentioned in the SLS standards for emulsion paints. The limit given under the United States is only 90 ppm. Except one sample, all other emulsion paint samples contained less than 90 ppm of total lead concentration.

It has been brought to our notice that one paint manufacturer in Sri Lanka has claimed that they are the only Sri Lankan brand whose paints are safe from lead and environment friendly according to the international standards. Meanwhile, one or more manufacturers claim that they too have lead free paint. We believe that no manufacturer or retailer of paints in Sri Lanka can claim that their paints are free of lead without presenting systematic, independent test results that can verify such a claim. We like to bring to the notice of general public that "Our tests were not exhaustive, we did not test paint from every manufacturer, and we only did random sampling from a few manufacturers. We therefore advice refrain from taking undue competitive advantage from the study.

Mr. Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Justice said that “current SLS voluntary standards are not sufficient for curbing lead in Paint. We are very concern about the silence of the Government agencies. It is our understanding that the Consumer Affairs Authority, Ministry of Health and Nutrition, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and Sri Lanka Standards Institution should take actions to provide MANDATORY STANDARDS and to ENACT REGULATIONS for manufacturers to comply with.”

Lead has been recognized as a prime toxic by WHO, impacting over 40 million children worldwide. Lead in paints had been responsible throughout the world for being a silent poison – particularly when used on walls and items that children would lick or chew.

Centre for Environmental Justice

More information please contact: Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director and Chamali Liyanage, Environmental Officer Telephone 0112683282 email: info@ejustice.lk

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Sri Lanka- Law to label GM foods gazetted

17 August 2006, Colombo. As requested by the Centre for Environmental Justice in its Writ application No.1380/06, Hemantha Withanage Vs Consumer Affairs Authority and others filed on 4th May 2005, the Government of Sri Lanka finally gazetted GM food labeling legislation (Gazette Ex. Ordinary. 1456/22 , 3rd August 2006) early this month making it mandatory for importers and local manufacturers of GM foods to label their products in the future.
The law which will come into effect from January 1, 2007 requires all GM food items to carry a prominent sticker informing that the product contains GM materials, giving the consumer the freedom of choice. Defaulters of this law will have to face a six-month jail term or a Rs. 10,000 fine or both under the Food Act, No. 26 of 1980.
All GM food importers will be required to apply for a permit from the Food Advisory Committee chaired by the Health Services Director General to import GM products in future. The permit will be given after verifying that the products are safe for human consumption and with the condition that it will be prominently labelled.
According to Dilena Pathragoda of Center for Environmental Justice, there are more than 100 GM food items available in the Sri Lankan markets. Once the law is implemented people will have the information to decide whether they would consume GM food or not.
Gazette Ex. Ordinary. 1456/22 , 3rd August 2006 on GM regulations can be found in http://www.documents.gov.lk/Extgzt/2006/Pdf/Aug/1456-22/1456-22e.pdf
The petition can be found in http://www.ejustice.lk/PDF/PDF-GM%20petition.pdf
More Information
Dilena Pathragoda, Director, Centre for Environmental Justice dilena@ejustice.lk
Nilmal Wikramasinghe, Legal Officer info@ejustice.lk
20A, Kuruppu Road, Colombo 08, Sri Lanka Website www.ejustice.lk

Centre for Environmental Justice

Centre for Environmental Justice


CEJ New case- challenging the constitutionality of the North Western Province Environmental Statute

July 14 2006,Colombo, Mr. Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) of 59/14, Kuruppu Road, Colombo 08 has filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal challenging the constitutionality of the North Western Province Environmental Statute. The application was supported today (14th July 2006) by Counsel Dr. Mangala Wijesinghe appearing with Attorneys Ravindranath Dabare and Ms. Nilmal Wickramasinge, before a bench comprising Justices Sripavan and Abrew.

The North Western Province Environmental Statute No. 12 of 1990 was purportedly made by the North Western Provincial Council following the enactment of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of 1987. The Petitioner stated in his application to the Court that there is no law made by Parliament empowering Provincial Councils to make Statutes for the protection the environment and therefore the North Western Province Environmental Statute is unconstitutional, and sought a writ of certiorari to quash the said statute.

After hearing the submissions made by Counsel for the Petitioner, the Court suggested that because of the constitutional significance of the matter the Attorney General be noticed to appear as amicus curiae. Accordingly, notice was issued on the Attorney General and the matter was re-fixed for support on 24.08 2006. The other Respondents to the application are the Chief Minister of the North Western Provincial Council, Governor of the North Western Province, North Western Province Environmental Authority, Central Environmental Authority, Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government and the Speaker of Parliament.

More in formation:
Nilmal Wikramasinghe, Legal Officer)
Dilena Pathragoda, Director Projects)
011-2683282

Norochcholai Coal Power Plant-Court issued notice to Ceylon Electricity Board and others-C.A.Writ Application No. 1112/2006

25th July 2006, Colombo, Today Court of Appeal issued notice to the Ceylon Electricity Board and eight other respondents to appear before Court in respect of the proposed Norochcholai Coal Power Plant in Sri Lanka.

S. M. Mubarak of 32/15,Service Road, Puttalam and seven others have filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka seeking a writ of mandamus against the Ceylon Electricity Board [CEB] and eight other Respondents to conduct an Environment Impact Assessment [EIA] in respect of the Puttalam Coal Power Project at Norochcholai (900MW) and to obtain approval for the same from the Central Environmental Authority [CEA] in the performance of the statutory duty in compliance with the provisions of the National Environmental Act No.47 of 1980, as amended .The application was supported by Counsel Dr. Mangala Wijesinghe appearing with Attorneys Mr. Ravindranath Dabare and Miss. Nilmal Wickramasinghe before a bench comprising Justices K. Sripavan and Sisira De Arbrew.

The Petitioners have stated that because of the adverse impacts on the environment, abiotic, biotic and human, real and potential, an Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] is essential to proceed with project. In C.A. Application 318/98 an Order had been given directing Respondents including the Ceylon Electricity Board to conduct an EIA under the provisions of the National Environmental Act. They have failed to do so up to date.

In view of the above situation the Petitioners have filed this application in the Court of Appeal. After hearing Counsel for the Petitioners the Court issued notice on the Respondents to appear before Court on 25 August2006.

Centre for Environmental Justice provided legal assistance for the Petitioners.

More information


Center for Environmental Justice
Nilmal Wikramasinghe, 011-2683282
Dilena Pathragoda 0112-683282
Email: info@ejustice.lk