The consultant identified to carry out an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) of the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project is expected to be ready in March next year, it has been established.
The consultancy will also involve preparing a resettlement action plan (RAP) for those living along the project sites.
Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) is implementing the project to pump water from Lake Malawi in Salima to Lilongwe City through a pipeline stretching over 130 kilometres (km).
LWB chief executive officer (CEO) Engineer Alfonso Chikuni said in a written response to a questionnaire that the ESIA was a requirement to be undertaken in a project of the magnitude of tapping water from Lake Malawi.
LWB has since hired Nemus Ltd, a Brazilian company operating in environmental planning development and public policies to carry out the EIA between November and March.
The Office of the Director of Public Procurement granted LWB a letter of no objection to award the contract for an independent environmental and social impact assessment and resettlement action plan to Nemus Ltd.
Responding to The Nation inquiry, Chikuni said this would be carried out in areas along the route and associated structures to ensure the requisite environmental mitigation measures of national and international standards are recommended.
The release of the ESIA report will not signal the end of the process as it will have to undergo approval processes by the Department of Environmental Affairs while the RAP will undergo review and approval processes by Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
Reacting to the development, Malawi Law Society (MLS), which sought a review of the decision to embark on the project without an EIA has said these were steps which were ignored and compromised the project. n