By Rutendo Ngara

THE Environmental Management Agency (Ema) says there is a need to review the environmental impact of the construction of the Batoka hydropower project.

The agency called on the public to contribute what they think should be implemented to validate why the agency should give a certification for the commencement of the project.

In a statement yesterday, Ema said although they have received an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the proposed Batoka power project, there is a need to review it to ensure that the project adheres to all environmental guidelines that would not endanger the environment.

“Hydropower schemes  are prescribed  projects  in terms  of section 97 as read with the first  schedule  of the Environmental Management  Act (CAP 20:27)  thus require  an ASIA  study  to be conducted  and issuance  of an ESIA certificate  before the  project  commences.

 “As part  of the review process, the public  is, therefore, being notified of the submission  of the above  proposed  project  for review  in terms  of section  100 of the Ema Act (CAP 20:27) as read  with section 10(7) of SI instrument of 2007,” read the statement.

Zimbabwe and Zambia are implementing the US$4 billion hydropower project in the gorges along Zambezi River where two by 1 200MW power plants would be set up on either side of the river. A substation, transmission as well as a new settlement and road infrastructure would also be built.

It will be located 54km downstream of the Victoria Falls, one of the biggest waterfalls in the world.

Officially known as the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electricity Scheme (BHES), the hydropower project would be developed by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), which is jointly owned by the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Both countries entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the development of the project in February 2012.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group was named as the lead financier and co-ordinator for the US$5.2bn project in April 2017.

The bi-national project is expected to create approximately 6 000 employment opportunities.