General News of Friday, 13 June 2014
Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has scolded the EPA and the Minerals Commission for their negligence resulting in widespread environmental degradation.
“What is the work of the EPA? And does the EPA check on these activities?” he asked.
Otumfuo made this remark when the newly elected boss of the Minerals Commission, Dr. Tony Aubynn paid a courtesy call on him at the Manhyia palace on Thursday.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a government institution under the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology to conserve and protect the environment. The Minerals Commission is also responsible for the regulation and management of the utilization of the mineral resources of Ghana.
The barrage of questions follows a week after Ashanti Regional Minister, Samuel Sarpong lambasted both the EPA and the Minerals Commission, naming them as “useless” institutions, for failing to curb the widespread menace of illegal mining.
During the call, Otumfuo, lamented the state at which the lands and water bodies within the region were polluted through small scale mining popularly known as “galamsey”.
In recent times, illegal mining has not only plagued the nation’s natural resources but has also resulted in unwanted deaths caused through unsealed pits and underground tunnels caving in.
Joy News last week, reported that several pits dug by illegal miners are endangering the lives of some 235 students of the Akropong School for the Deaf. The pollution of the rivers Prah and Offin in the Ashanti region are examples. The rivers are now mingled with cyanide - a poisonous substance.
“…Now the situation has gotten out of hand, our water bodies and farms have been destroyed,” the Asantehene observed.
He, however, acknowledged that the menace could not be blamed solely on these two institutions.
“What is the kind of relationship between this community and the EPA? And do we inform the EPA of these activities?” he asked.
Otumfuo urged the nation to rally support for the government to help curb the menace that is plaguing the environment.
An Inter-Ministerial Taskforce against illegal mining set up by President John Mahama in May 2013 has succeeded in deporting foreigners engaged in the menace. Some equipment of illegal miners have been confiscated and destroyed. But the fight against the canker is proving elusive.
In response, Dr. Aubynn called for greater community collaboration with the Commission as the way forward in dealing with galamsey.
“Illegal mining can only be addressed by all of us”, he said.
He said some small scale miners were operating with "licenses purported to have been signed by the minister meanwhile they fake licenses”.