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Soda ash firm boss fights Lenku arrest calls.

Tata Chemicals Magadi chief executive is fending off calls for his arrest for the diversion of Kisamis seasonal river.

The chief executive officer of the multinational soda ash mining company, Harish Nair, said NEMA and WARMA approved all the dyking works for diversion of the river to curb siltation in Lake Magadi.

Nair was responding to Lenku's call for his arrest along with his technical adviser and former Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni. The governor says the diversion was not approved by the county government and the community.

Lenku on Friday read malice in the project and claimed the company illegally diverted Kisamis seasonal river 100km upstream in Mosiro, which is outside its concession area.

Nair said that deforestation and construction projects upstream had recently led to a large amount of silt being dumped in the lake whenever it rains.

Kisamis river flows into Lake Magadi and the company, after intensive consultation with the community, the national and county governments in 2017, was allowed to divert the river.

'About 30 per cent of the lake has been lost to the silt. Continued siltation would have led to the loss of the entire lake in a matter of a few years, thereby threatening Lake Magadi and the economic activity dependent thereon,' Nair said.

The CEO said the company had started a project to protect and revive the lake in partnership with the government, local community, NEMA, WARMA and other international knowledge leaders in environment and science.

'This multi-agency project considered the various inputs and concluded that the best option would be to divert the flow of the river and undertake afforestation efforts upstream, in a manner that the water remains available for the community while at the same time the siltation threat to Magadi ceases,' he said.


He said a committee made up of Tata officials, community and county government representatives was created to oversee the diversion.

Available documents show due approvals for diversion were received from NEMA on June 30, 2017, and from WARMA on May 29, 2017. They detail environment and social impact assessments.

'Tata Chemicals Magadi is committed to adhering to the highest standards of conduct and working with the community for sustainable growth,' Nair said.

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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Mar 18, 2019
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