Pressure mounts on Ghana to halt bauxite mining at Atewa Forest

Photo credit: Citinewsroom

The Government of Ghana is under intense pressure as concerns to halt bauxite mining at the Atewa Forest grow.

On Tuesday, January 21, a group calling itself the Concerned Citizens of the Atewa Landscape staged a protest kicking against the move.

The group joins the likes of A Rocha Ghana — who had earlier served notice to challenge the government’s decision in the law court.

This is not the first time a group is kicking against the government’s plan of mining in the forest.

The Government of Ghana in a Sinohydro deal with China, is expected to trade off bauxite worth US$2 billion to be used on infrastructure including roads, bridges, interchanges, hospitals, housing and rural electrification.

The protestors were drawn from communities such as Adukrom, Anyinam, Asamankese, and Kwabeng all in the Eastern Region.

They were in Kyebi to present a petition to the Municipal Chief Executive of the area for onward submission to government.

Photo credit: Citinewsroom

“How can you take away our lives and say you are protecting us? The government is going for a loan and it decides to sell off what gives its citizens life. So, we are pleading with the government to have mercy on us and leave our oxygen for us to breathe”, one of the demonstrators said in an interview with reporters.

Another said, “It is like the government is adamant so the only thing we can tell them is that they should stop what they are doing. We are going to petition the MCE that we don’t want the bauxite to be mined”.

Legal Action

A Rocha Ghana, together with other NGOs and individuals, filed the notice on January 13, 2020 against the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Gloria A. Akuffo, over government’s plans to exploit the Atewa Range Forest for bauxite.

The intended Reliefs of the notice include: 1. Declaration that the right to life and dignity as enshrined in the Constitution of Ghana, 1992 which includes (a) the right to a clean and healthy environment and (b) the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations.

  1. A declaration that mining bauxite in the Atewa Forest violates the right to life and dignity enshrined under articles 13 and 15 of the Constitution.
  2. An order, compelling the Government of Ghana and its agents to take the necessary steps to protect Atewa Forest Range in accordance with constitutional obligations as contained under article 36(9) of the constitution.
  3. An order, restraining the Government of Ghana, its assigns and agents, servants, workmen, allottees and guarantees whatsoever and howsoever described from undertaking mining and its related activities in the Atewa Forest Range.

It will be recalled that last year Oscar award-winning actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, added his voice to calls for the protection of the Atewa Forest as Ghana prepares to commence the first phase of the Sinohydro deal.

Leonardo Dicaprio

The deal will see Ghana’s bauxite reserves in the Atewa Forest mined and traded in a ‘barter’ deal for $2 billion from China, meant to be invested in various developmental projects across the country, particularly roads.

DiCaprio, who is a staunch environmentalist, believes that mining in the Forest would put the millions of people and hundreds of “wildlife species” who depend on it “at risk of extinction.”

“Ghana’s #Atewa Forest Reserve provides drinking water to 5 million+ people & harbors 100+ wildlife species at risk of extinction. We must prioritize the protection of these irreplaceable places for a healthy planet,” he said in a tweet last year.

Gov’t assurances

While the government had assured to look into the issue, it is still pushing to implement the deal — as a private firm had been contracted to undertake the confirmatory drilling in the forest.

Several other bodies including A ROCHA Ghana, who have been fierce critics of the Sinohydro deal, the Christian Council of Ghana and the US Forest Service who provided some technical advice have urged the government to consider the potential ramifications of mining in the forest, one of most detrimental being the destruction of the sources of water for about five million people.

Source: Daily Mail GH with additional files from Citinewsroom

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