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Chinese hotel project haunts EMA

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The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) says the construction of a hotel on a wetland near the National Sports Stadium by a Chinese company can only be stopped by a ministerial order.

Anjin, which is also involved in diamond mining in Chiadzwa, was once ordered to stop construction of the hotel by EMA because the project threatened the fragile environment.

Aaron Chigona, the EMA director, told journalists after giving oral evidence to Parliaments Thematic Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism on Wednesday that construction on wetlands had become a major challenge.

It is difficult for EMA to say those people should stop building because it is only a ministerial order that can effect the stoppage, said Chigona, referring to the Anjin project.

The minister (Environment and Natural Resources Management, Francis Nhema) in terms of the Environment Act is the only one who has power to authorise building on wetlands and we expect the minister to make a decision on whether to issue that order in two weeks time or not.

Chigona told the committee made up of senators that a legal framework must be put in place to regulate construction work on wetlands.

The firm in question is trying to reduce the size of the wetland and if there was a proper legal framework, these developers would have been made to ensure there was improvement on the wetland, he said.

He said EMA was also struggling to ensure developers carried out environment impact assessment studies before embarking on major projects.

We have been battling to ensure that this process is implemented by developers, but it is unfortunate our developers are not taking this as a planning tool, Chigona said.

EMA environment, education and publicity officer for Mashonaland West, Astas Mabwe, said Chitungwiza Town Council was also guilty of carrying out construction projects on wetlands.

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