Controversy over milk factory

Capital Daily Industries Limited which is at the centre of a controversy over the milk factory built on an illegal land in Lilongwe is continuing to process milk and other products despite a stop order by authorities, Weekend Nation understands.

Meanwhile the issue of how the commercial plot 2/653 was changed to a light industry by some officers at Lilongwe City Council (LCC) and Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, without approval of the Town Planning Committee will be investigated by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

ACB says it will probe the matter following the intervention of the parliamentary committee on Natural Resources and Climate who three weeks ago, summoned officials from LCC to explain how documents to construct a factory at an unsuitable place were changed from commercial land to mixed use.

ACB will also investigate how the investor got a go–ahead to construct the factory, all in a short period of time.

An impeccable source confided to us that the factory is now processing milk, cheese and butter and the owners have not dismantled the machine as advised by Department of Environmental Affairs.

In an interview Department of Environmental Affairs spokesperson Sangwani Phiri indicated that the office earlier issued an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for a warehouse.

“If indeed they are continuing then that is an illegal process. What is in their application is not the structure you see today. We, therefore, ordered them to stop everything,” said Phiri.

Chairperson for Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change Welani Chilenga was equally baffled to learn that the factory is operational and has since pledged to take up the matter with the Department of Environmental Affairs, who he said were supposed to close down the milk factory.

According to him if the EIA report was not issued then what ever activities are taking place at the factory are being done outside the law.

But Capital Daily Industries Limited managing director Mohsin Salim said in an interview the the factory is not yet operational.

He said: “That’s totally untrue. We are waiting and we are not under investigations.”

He could not take further questions when pressed to elaborate on what exactly is taking place at the facility.

But in an earlier interview Mohsin said he followed all instructions as advised by the council for the construction of the factory.

In a response to our questionnaire ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala stated that the bureau has finished all the preparatory works.

She said: “The Anti-Corruption Bureau has finished reviewing the complaint alleging corruption in the allocation of the plot. It has been authorised for investigation and the bureau will commence its investigation on the matter very soon.”

The plot in question is between Central Medical Stores Trust and Sana Food Court in the city where original documents show that the piece of land is designated for a warehouse.

Documents Weekend Nation has seen show that according to the original designs of the plot, Reference Number 382-6-2015 dated July 30 2015, the Town Planning Committee granted permission to Dipak Trust to construct a fitment centre and an office block.

But using the same Reference Number 382-6-2015, the committee allegedly on May 31 2017 granted another permission allowing the inclusion of a milk processing plant to also be constructed on the same plot.

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