Cabinet
High Court
Homa Bay
Itare
Itare River
James
John
Jubilee
Justices John Mutungi
Kenya
Kitilit
Kuresoi
Mau Forest
Mr Hosea Wendot
Mwamu
Nakuru County
National Environment Management Authority(NEMA
National Environmental Management Authority
Natural Resources
Ndoinet
Rift Valley Water and Services Board
River

Elders sue for wider public participation in Itare dam project

The elders drawn from the Kipsigis, Luo, Kuria,Abagusii and Ogiek communities, through laywer Kipkoech Ngetich, on Tuesday made an application in court seeking orders to have the  public participation done on the lower riparian regions of River Itare which drains into the Sondu river. Mr Kipkoech told the court that his clients who reside in Bomet, Kisii, Kericho, Migori, Kisumu and Homa Bay counties were not given an opportunity to express their views on the development of the dam right at the middle of the Itare River which according to them, is a shared resource.Appearing before Justices John Mutungi, Dalmas Ohungo and Mohamed Kuno, he expressed concerns over the unknown effects the project  would have on the residents in the lower riparian  areas as well as on future generations.

Elders from 10 counties challenging the construction of the controversial Sh38 billion Itare dam now want the High Court to order a fresh public participation process before its construction  continues. This comes a day after a three Environment and Land court judges  made a physical inspection of the controversial multi-billion shilling dam at Ndoinet  area in Kuresoi, Nakuru County.The elders drawn from the Kipsigis, Luo, Kuria,Abagusii and Ogiek communities, through laywer Kipkoech Ngetich, on Tuesday made an application in court seeking orders to have the  public participation done on the lower riparian regions of River Itare which drains into the Sondu river.Mr Kipkoech told the court that his clients who reside in Bomet, Kisii, Kericho, Migori, Kisumu and Homa Bay counties were not given an opportunity to express their views on the development of the dam right at the middle of the Itare River which according to them, is a shared resource.

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Appearing before Justices John Mutungi, Dalmas Ohungo and Mohamed Kuno, he expressed concerns over the unknown effects the project  would have on the residents in the lower riparian  areas as well as on future generations. “From the testimony of the expert witnesses, it is clear that public participation only involved Nakuru residents who are the beneficiaries, yet no effort was made towards engaging locals  from the lower riparian areas who also depend on the resource. We are not opposed to the project but it is in the interest of sustainable development that we request the court to order public participation and assure the residents of a safe and clean environment in future,” said Mr Kipkoech.The request was, however, opposed by the Rift Valley Water and Services Board, the main respondents in the petition, who argued that the prayers by the petitioners had no legal basis.Through lawyer Bernad Okango, RVWSB claimed did not provide any evidence showing that the region would have any serious environmental impact.Mr Okango further maintained that the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) conducted sufficient public participation as required by the law.READ: Huge dam on edge of Mau Forest may threaten Maasai MaraOn Monday, the  three judges toured the multi-billion dam construction site to personally confirm issues raised in court.They were accompanied by lawyers from both parties, Rift Valley Water and Services Board Chairman Mr John Kitilit, Chief Executive Officer Mr Hosea Wendot, representatives from the National Environment Management Authority(NEMA) among other stakeholders.The petitioners are challenging the construction of the dam,a Jubilee government flagship project.Through their lawyers Mr James Mwamu and Kipkoech Ngetich, the petitioners had argued that the construction had led to displacement of  hundreds of families which were not compensated.The court further heard that the project had interfered with the free flow of water by diverting the Itare river waters into the collector tunnel.The judges yesterday, managed to visit the tunnel outlet at Kibunja area in Molo Sub-County and the construction site in Kuresoi South.NEMA experts had earlier told the court that there was a clear plan to mitigate any negative impacts likely to result from the project construction.Zablon Oonge, the expert who compiled the environmental impact assessment report of the project, yesterday told the judges that the land in which the tunnel will pass through belonged to the Kenya Forest Service and would be rehabilitated once the project is done.The case was filed in 2016 by the elders from the six communities seeking to stop the construction of the dam.They sued the RWVSB, the Cabinet Secretary of Water and Natural Resources and the Attorney-General arguing that the project would render their regions deserts.The judges will deliver judgment on July 27.ALSO READ: Itare Dam workers push for double pay, stay away

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