The Ashanti Regional Minister Samuel Sarpong has castigated the region’s Minerals commission and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to curb the widespread menace of illegal mining.
‘People are mining few metres to water bodies and since they [EPA and Minerals Commission] are not making sure that the right thing is done, I will label them as useless so far as that institution is concerned,’ he reiterated.
‘We talk of EPA and the Minerals Commissionthey are supposed to monitor these activities [mining] and make sure that the right thing is done but what do we see,’ he complained.
The Minerals Commission is a government institution set up under Article 269 of the 1992 Constitution to regulate the activities of mining within the country. The Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) is also an organized government body set up to improve and protect the environment .
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.
The Regional Minister’s critcism comes a day after it was reported by Joy News that several pits dug by illegal miners endangering the lives of some 235 students of the Akropong School of the Deaf.
The pollution of the rivers Prah and Offin in the Ashanti region is a quintessential example. The rivers are now mingled with cyanide -a poisonous substance.
An Inter-Ministerial Taskforce against illegal mining set up in May 2013 have suceeded in deporting foreigners engaged in the menace. Some equipment of illegal miners have been confisticated and destroyed. But the fight against the canker is proving elusive.
Some chiefs and individuals are still giving out land concessions to foreigners to carry out this illegal act.
The Minister has directed all small scale miners to show thier mining licences.
‘I want to issue a [one week] moratorium for any small scale mining group with genuine mining lease to submit their documents to the Regional Security Council’, he said.
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