Ghana requires US$650 billion to reclaim degraded lands and forests, restore polluted rivers and clean up the general environment. But that would even take the country a period of 16 consecutive years, if government had such a huge amount of money, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said on Thursday.
Prof Frimpong Boateng, also the Chair of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, made the statement when he was speaking at the Brong-Ahafo Regional inauguration of District Committees against Illegal Mining (DCIM) at Kenyasi Number Two in the Asutifi North District.
The DCIM are established ad hoc committees in all the mining districts of the country as part of various interventions that are currently being implemented by the government and other stakeholders to curb the menace of illegal small scale mining.
The inauguration was the third in the series, after Tarkwa and Dunkwa in the Western and Central Regions.
The next inauguration would be in Kumasi and the Districts in the Brong-Ahafo are Asutifi North, Asutifi South, Tano North, Dormaa Central and Dormaa East.
The composition of the DCIMs is the Chief Executive of the relevant Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembly (MMDA), a representative of the particular MMDA and a representative of the traditional council within the locality.
The others are a representative each from the Minerals Commission, the Forestry Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Immigration Service (where applicable), the Security Services and three other persons appointed by the President.
The District Chief Executive is the Chairperson of the DCIM and its functions are “addressing illegal mining issues that arise”, “training in responsible and sustainable mining” and “promoting small scale mining activities”.
The rest are “designation of small scale mining areas”, “managing the relationship between small scale miners and other mineral right holders” and “ensure that members of the Small Scale Mining Association are licensed miners”.
Prof Frimpong Boateng said illegal mining was being done in eight out of the 10 regions in the country, and expressed concern that menace had covered and destroyed 23,000, about ten per cent out of the 230,000-kilometre square total land area of the country.
He said because of the pollution of the Volta Lake, 80 per cent of fish being reared in it died and expressed the fear that the lives of the current generation of Ghanaians and the generation yet unborn are at risk in view of the resultant health hazards.
Prof Frimpong Boateng said small scale mining is the sole preserve of Ghanaians, saying that foreigners have no right to engage in it, hence the formation of the DCIM to help curb illegal operations.
He said the ban on illegal and small scale mining by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was not to destroy the small scale miners’ businesses but was meant to sanitise and regulate the operations of that sector to ensure a responsible and sustainable mining to derive maximum socio-economic benefit for the nation.
Dr Naa Dedei Tagoe Mantey, a lecturer at the Department of Geomatic Engineering of the George Grant University of Mines and Technology, formerly University of Mines and Technology at Tarkwa, gave a short training to the DCIM members by slide presentation on the use of drones and satellite images for monitoring illegal mining activities in the country.
The members were sworn into office by Prof Frimpong-Boateng who led them to take the three national oaths of Office, Allegiance and Secrecy.
Ms Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hajia Alima Mahama, the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Dan Botwe, the Minister for Regional Re-Organisation and Development and Mr Kofi Dzamesi, Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs also took turns to speak at the ceremony.
Each of the committees was given GHC10,000.00 to commence their activities.
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