James Momanyi @jamomanyi
Environmentalist Ratemo Michieka has opposed plans by Kisii County government to excise part of Nyangweta Forest in South Mugirango to pave way for the construction of a sugar factory over fears of environmental degradation.
Kisii Governor James Ongwae, Senator Sam Ongeri and South Mugirango MP Slyvanus Osoro have been pushing for the setting aside of 120 acres for the construction of a Sh5 billion sugar factory by an Indian investor- Kanoria Group.
However, Michieka, who is a former National Environment Management Authority (Nema) director general, has faulted the project on the basis of the huge environmental impact it would occasion Kisii county and the entire Western Kenya region.
Michieka told People Daily that clearing the only remaining forest in Kisii will cause untold damage to the ecosystem, hence affecting residents for generations to come.
“Forests are to the environment, what lungs are to human beings. From absorbing carbon dioxide to recycling of nutrients and servicing of rivers over 120km away, Nyangweta Forest serves as the lungs of the county, whose population growth is one of the highest around,” Michieka said.
Michieka called for a fresh Environmental Impact Assessment to be carried out by an independent Nema certified expert and company for the public to scrutinise the findings.
However, Slyvanus Osoro defended the project, saying all relevant government bodies, including Nema, have given the project a green light. “The County government has already presented a plan on how it’s going to do re-afforestation to compensate for the lost excised forest land.
The county is going to gazette more than seven new forests that will pave way to the forestation of about 900 acres,” Osoro told People Daily.