Zimbabwe: Power station deal hangs in the balance as environmentalist demand answers on approval of project

Author: Evans Mathanda & Tinashe Kairiza, Zimbabwe Independent, Published on: 20 May 2020

‘Lobbyists challenge US$3bn Sengwa thermal power deal’ 15 May 2020

Environmentalists are opposing a plan by Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed miner RioZim to build a US$3 billion coal-fired 2 100-megawatt Sengwa power station in view of the potential impact on the environment and local community. They have also raised concern over the project’s likely impact on Lake Kariba, whose water level has dwindled in recent months as a result of climate change.
The Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (Zela), a lobby group, has also demanded from RioZim proof that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was conducted for the power station whose construction is set to commence this year after being on the cards since the early 1990s.

Joyce Chapungu, the public relations officer of the Environmental Management Agency, yesterday told the Zimbabwe Independent that the state-run agency has not yet received any EIA submissions from RioZim, therefore no approval has been granted. “Since you rightfully indicated, it’s a project still under the planning phase and has not yet commenced. Environmental impact of this particular project will be determined through the EIA process. However, just from a generic understanding any coal mining operations and thermal power production are associated with acid mine drainage, land scarification, air pollution from dust as well as from the thermal power station,” Chapungu said.

…“Please note that in terms of section 62 of the Constitution as read with section 4 of the Environmental Management Act we have a right to access to information which is in your possession relating to this project. Further, in terms of section 73 of the Constitution our environment has to be protected for present and future generations. “In particular, we would like to find out the following: Whether or not the companies herein have a permit or special grant to conduct the project? How big is the area to be mined? Are there people who are going to be relocated? What is the effect of the proposed mining project on the already overstretched Kariba water,” he added.

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