Published: Saturday 15 December 2007

The Tanzania government has put Tata Chemicals's soda ash plant around Lake Natron on hold. National Environmental Management Council (NEMC), the country's environmental watchdog, has recommended a new environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA). The recommendation came after NEMC called for a meeting between conservationists and Tata Chemicals to review the previous ESIA of the project. Conservationists have been alleging that a previous assessment by Norconsult had loopholes (see 'Bird hit', Down To Earth, September 30, 2007). Conservationists warned that the plant could spell doom for the endangered lesser flamingo. The Natron lake is the nesting and breeding site for about 75 per cent of the world flamingo population. The recommendation to repeat the ESIA was made to the Tanzanian environment minister Mark Mwandosya, who has 30 days to respond to the NEMC proposal.

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