Land can be reserved for dam basins or sites

Zimbabwe, being a country that has two distinct dry and wet seasons, inevitably requires infrastructure such as dams to provide strategic reserves for water during times of shortage. The effects of climate change that have seen the country having droughts have also increased the need to dams and other water supply infrastructure. This therefore calls for responsible authorities such as ZINWA and its parent Ministry, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate to take practical steps towards ensuring that the country has sufficient plans in place for dam construction. This includes the securing of land for dams. This function is also buttressed in terms of the Water Act.

In terms of Section 56 of the Water Act, the Minister responsible for the administration of the Water Act, who in this case is the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, after consulting the catchment council concerned reserve a certain area for purposes of dam construction.

The section says the Minister will through a notice in the Government Gazette and in a newspaper circulating in the area concerned; reserve any area comprising a potential dam site dam basin or potential dam site or both against subdivision in terms of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act, the construction of permanent improvements therein or thereon and the carrying of any activity which may have the effect of enhancing the value of the land or interfering with the dam basin.

If the Minister deems it fit, in consultation with ZINWA and the catchment council concerned, he may modify the an existing reservation or may even withdraw it.

This part of the Act therefore provides the much needed legal cover for the identification and reservation of land for the construction of dams across the country, which is in line with both the Ministry’s and ZINWA’s mandate.

In exercising the powers conferred to him in respect of reserving land for purposes of dam construction, the Minister is also required to notify, in writing, the owner or lessee of land that would have been reserved.

Such people are entitled to compensation. Anyone wishing to claim compensation in respect of the reservation, that person can write to the Minister within 60 days from the date of reservation specifying in detail the nature of the loss or damaged caused to him by the reservation. In the case on any modification of a reservation, the Minister will be required to reassess the compensation payable to affected parties.

Once any areas has been reserved for a dam site or dam basin, any activities likely to improve the value of the land, the construction of permanent structures or the carrying out of other activities that may interfere with the dam basin or site immediately become prohibited.

The area may only be used for purposes permitted by the Minister.

Failure to comply with these requirements after the reservation of the area is a criminal offence and those found on the wrong side of the law are liable to prosecution and face up to six months imprisonment or a fine of both such imprisonment or fine.

For more information you can contact the ZINWA Corporate Communications and Marketing Department on pr@zinwa.co.zw or visit www.zinwa.co.zw. You can also like the Zimbabwe National Water Authority Facebook Page

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