New EIA illuminates Stiegler’s Gorge project green light

CONTRARY to previous reports by environmentalists, the new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the 2,100 megawatts – Rufiji Hydropower Project at Stigler’s Gorge has shown recoverable effects, confirming government’s forecasts to start construction work later next month.

EIA report is a crucial stage towards implementing the decades-long unexecuted project which is projected to improve power supply in the country. Briefing Permanent Secretaries from ministries implementing the project, the researcher, Prof Raphael Mwalyosi said the impacts observed in the findings may be prevented.

“Our assessment has revealed that the project can be implemented without any form of fear. The only best approach is to set strategies that will prevent such environment impacts,” he said. A statement from the Ministry of Energy did not highlight the areas found to be vulnerable.

However, a statement released July last year by the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) indicated that the largescale hydropower dam planned for Selous Game Reserve world heritage site puts protected areas of global importance, as well as the livelihoods of over 200,000 people who depend upon the environment at risk.

WWF has described the project “fatally flawed” due to ecological impacts. The meeting held at the Ministry of Energy in Dodoma late Monday, was also attended by the Director of Information Service (MAELEZO) and Chief Government Spokesperson Dr Hassan Abbas, Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA), Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads) and Tanzania National Electric Supply Company (Tanesco).

The Permanent Secretaries represented the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the Ministry of Finance and Planning, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries and the Ministry of Agriculture.

Others were from the Office of the Vice-President (Environment), Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication as well as the Ministry of Information.

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