The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Dormaa East, Mr Paul Twum Barimah, says the decision by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to suspend all prospecting licences granted mining companies will help protect the environment.
Beyond the suspension, the MP, who sits on two committees in Parliament, said the ministry should also cause the arrest and prosecution of those who flouted rules governing the prospecting for minerals and those who degraded forests and the environment without the appropriate licence or legal backing.
In an interview with some journalists in Accra last Friday, the communication and energy specialist said the decision was even the most lenient of the options available to the minister.
Mr Twum Barimah, who sits on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Special Budget and Poverty Reduction Strategy committees, indicated that illegal, unregulated and irresponsible mining was seriously threatening the existence of Ghana’s forest reserves, rivers and water bodies, describing the situation as life threatening that required drastic measures to curb.
The NPP lawmaker for Dormaa East said the negative impact of climate change on the environment would soon be felt in Ghana if steps were not taken to protect and save the situation.
A few weeks ago, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, directed individuals and companies engaged in prospecting in forest reserves with or without legal authorisation to suspend such activities until further notice.
The minister’s decision followed revelation that a number of individuals and companies unlawfully acquired licences on the pretext of undertaking reconnaissance or prospecting in Forest Reserves but yet proceeded to engage in illegal mining in such reserves, with its obvious adverse consequences on the environment.
Mr Jinapor further directed the Minerals Commission, with immediate effect, not to accept, process or recommend the grant, including renewal or extension of reconnaissance and prospecting licences in Forest Reserves.
According to Mr Twum Barimah, “Ghana has lost over GH¢36 billion to environmental degradation, based on figures from the Institute of Environment and Sanitation Studies of the University of Ghana. He also cited the World Bank’s Country Environmental Analysis which indicated that environmental degradation cost the nation $6.3 billion or nearly 11 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 2017.
The Dormaa East legislator, therefore, recommended some measures to be undertaken by the government to curb the situation.
“These include cessation of the issuance of new mining licenses for a year; reclassification of mining categories to reflect the use of new/larger equipment; allowing water bodies to regenerate their natural ecology by tree planting and land reclamation projects,” the MP said.
Climate change in Ghana is projected to affect its vital water resources, energy supplies, crop production and food security.
The country is already experiencing increased extreme weather conditions with higher incidences and more prolonged periods of flooding and droughts, with less predictable rainfall patterns.
The Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.