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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: September 28 2012 »

26 Sep 2012  by OOSKAnews Correspondent

ZIMBABWE, BULAWAYO — The environmental practices of Chinese coal companies
are threatening the future of Zimbabwe’s National Zambezi Water Project,
according to Zimbabwean officials.

The government has granted a number of Chinese companies mining rights along
the Gwayi and Shangani rivers, the site of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, which
will serve as the reservoir for water drawn from the Zambezi River under the
water pipeline mega project.

Both the Gwayi-Shangani Dam and the Zambezi pipeline are being funded
through a Chinese loan.

But officials from the Gwayi Valley Conservancy now say the Chinese mining
firms are flouting environmental laws and polluting the rivers that feed the
Gwayi-Shangani Dam.

They are engaging in open pit mining, which is blamed for causing siltation
while coal residue is making its way into the main waterways.

“Some of these Chinese companies have been fined more than three times by
the Environmental Management Agency for operating without an environmental
impact assessment certificate, but they continue to secretly do their
pegging on the farms and some have established structures that they are not
allowed to [build] by law,” Mark Russell, chairman of the Gwayi Valley
Intensive Conservation Area, told reporters last week.

Langton Masunda, another official from the Gwayi Valley Intensive
Conservation Area, said the level of pollution from coal mining could be a
serious blow to efforts to bring water to the region.

“Allowing the Chinese companies to extract coal in the Gwayi area would
scuttle Bulawayo’s plans to draw water from Zambezi River. We are not
refusing development in Matabeleland North, but we should also think of our
children and grandchildren," said Masunda, who sits on the conservancy’s
executive committee.

“Water has far-reaching benefits than the mining activities that are likely
to last for about 20 years, but the environment won’t be renewable after
coal mining. Those who make decisions should make economic decisions and
think of the future generations,” Masunda said.

The operations of Chinese companies, which have won multi-million-dollar
contracts in virtually every sector of the Zimbabwean economy, are
increasingly coming under scrutiny, with some critics noting labor
violations at some of the dam construction sites across the country.

The Water Ministry has not weighed in on the pollution concerns.

Critics also say the Chinese are protected by President Robert Mugabe under
his ambitious “Look East policy,” which over the past decade has courted
Chinese investment as part of the country’s economic revival efforts.

source:
http://www.ooskanews.com/
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