Environmental activists in Tanzania have forced a Tata Group company to put on hold a $500 million soda ash plant by generating protests from across the world.
Campaigners say one of the world’s finest flamingo habitats would be destroyed if Tata Chemicals and its Tanzanian partner, National Development Corporation (NDC), set up their factory in the Lake Natron area.
The protests are similar to the ones the Tatas faced for a port they are developing in a joint venture with L&T in Dhamra, Orissa. The port is close to a nesting site for endangered Olive Ridley turtles and is facing opposition over fears that it will threaten the turtles.
Confirming the development in Tanzania, Homi Khusrokhan, MD, Tata Chemicals, told HT: “The Lake Natron Project, as originally envisaged, has been kept in abeyance. The company is not in a position to take a view with regard to resumption till it has a chance to examine the final approved Ramsar Management Plan currently under preparation for Lake Natron.” The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
Khusrokhan, key spokesperson for the project, said: “It is clear now the plant cannot be sited at the lakeside because of the risks to the environment and, therefore, the original Environment and Social Impact Assessment… should be treated as withdrawn.”
The protests were supported internationally by groups like UK-based Birdlife International.