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Minister wants MP censured over lake claims

BUSIA
By | March 3rd 2010

By Luke Anami

Fisheries Minister Paul Otuoma wants Parliament to censure Naivasha MP John Mututho for misusing his position as the chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture.

Dr Otuoma said he would ask the speaker to reprimand the MP for breaching Standing Orders of the committee.

"Mr Mututho should be censured for claiming that fish death in Lake Naivasha was associated with pesticides from the flower farms in the area, without tabling the committee findings in Parliament as is required by Standing Orders," he said.

The minister said the Naivasha MP did not consult his ministry over the matter choosing instead to make unsubstantiated allegations in the press, likely to affect the economic well being of both the flower and fishing sectors. According to Standing Orders, chair of committees are not supposed to issue summons or make comments over matters under investigation through the press.

Interest groups

Mr Mututho could, however, not be reached for comment on his cell phone by the time of going to press.

"The Agriculture Parliamentary Committee Chairman should desist from making statements without carrying out necessary consultations with the relevant Government ministries and agencies involved," Otuoma told The Standard.

He said the frequency with which Mututho has been making statements over matters affecting agriculture would make one suspect he is either being used to fight battles on behalf of undisclosed interests groups or he does not understand his role.

Otuoma said preliminary investigation by his and Public health, Environment, Water and Office of the President ministries, backed with the relevant expertise from National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), indicated that the fish died from lack of oxygen due to unusual mixing associated with organic matter decomposition. "The unusual environmental patterns seem to be the most likely cause of the sudden fish deaths," he said.

The minister said Nema was still undertaking major audits in the 63 flower farms, while Municipal Council and hotels have been directed to ensure pre-treatment of their wastewater before discharge.

The Ministry of public Health is also involved in the exercise.

Mr Otuoma said flower farms around the lake are expected to observe the highest environmental standards in there farming activities.

However, he said, one cannot rule out the possibility of some unscrupulous flower farms to pollute the lake.

Otuoma said it was not in order for the MP to make the claims without proper investigation.

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