Save Atewa Group Slams Minister *Over galamsey tagging comment

MEMBERS of the Concerned Citizens of the Save Atewa Landscape have launched a blistering attack at the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof Frimpong Kwabena Boateng, for what they describe as unfortunate statements by the minister, branding them as galamseyers and double standards.

A press statement signed and issued by the leadership of group in the persons of Oteng Adjei, Akyeano Tabi, Rev Collins Amoah and Nana Ampem Darko-Amponsah dared the minister to show proof to buttress his claim that they were galamseyers.

And if the minister is not able to substantiate his galamsey tagging claim, the group charged him to apologise to all well-meaning Ghanaians who are protesting the plan of the government to allow bauxite mining in the Atewa Forest Range Reserve in the Eastern Region.

“We are saying that Prof Frimpong Boateng should apologise to all well-meaning Ghanaians who are against the plans to convert the country’s most magnificent watershed into a mine pit, and rather help to preserve, conserve and eventually designate the Atewa Forest Reserve as a National Park,” the group stated in their statement copied to Today yesterday in Accra.

The statement stressed that members of the group cannot fathom why their calling for “judicious use of our fast depleting natural resources, and particularly also asking government not to target Atewa Range Forest for the bauxite development agenda, because of its crucial service of providing water for over 5 million Ghanaians and at the same time, providing other priceless ecosystems services for Ghanaians and the global community as a whole,” would incur the wrath of the minister to use such unprinted statement against them.

It described the outburst of the minister as not only unfortunate but definitely a ‘travesty of justice and betrayal of the confidence.

“…we have placed in our public officers to secure our natural resources and also particularly because we respect Prof Frimpong Boateng.”

Nonetheless, the statement noted that the Concerned Citizens of the Save Atewa Landscape was not the least worried because that has been the stock-in-trade of government functionaries since the group committed to stay true to its convictions and resist any attempt(s) to mine in a watershed that was contributing significantly to the water needs of Ghanaians

“Do we have to fight our government and be called names, just because we believe in securing our natural resources for posterity? We are sure, the general public has seen through the pettiness of the Minister for Environment and no rejoinder would have been necessary.

“However, we see this also as an opportunity for us to clarify a few points thereby drawing the attention of the Minister of Environment, to the lip-service and neglect of their duty to manage our natural resources and protect the citizenry from harmful environmental polluting activities, a task that clearly they have abandoned,” the statement said.

Continuing, the statement said “As drowning man would out of desperation clutch at any straw for survival, but eventually would drown. Such actions we assure the Prof will not distract us to lose our focus so the earlier he and his cohorts in governance refrain from tagging us the better. We are focused in our avowed policy direction.”

Setting the records straight, the statement stressed that the membership of the Concerned Citizens of the Save Atewa Landscape have never indulged in galamsey and will never do such a dastardly act to desecrate the very environment they seek to protect.

In this regard, the statement stressed that any blame for the failure to prevent or prohibit entry for activities that compromise the ecological integrity of the forest, and was at variance with the purpose and objects for which the forest was gazetted should be put at the doorstep of the state agencies who are given state resources to make sure all forests in Ghana stay protected and secured for critical ecosystem services they provide.

“Who Hon. Minister is exhibiting double standards, especially when these state agencies refuse to be proactive and only take reactional measures to address clear threats to our natural forest estates.