Save the Nation for Future Leaders, a civil society group, has appealed to Government to declare mining an illegal activity to save the nation its waters, land, green cover and fauna from any further degradation.
The group said, instead, the government must concentrate on agricultural production, especially cocoa and other cash crops, to get the needed foreign exchange and revenue for national development.
The group, at a news conference at the Parliament House in Accra, rubbished the functions of Operation Vanguard, a Military Police Joint Task Force (JTF) set up by the President of Ghana in 2017 to combat the operation of illegal mining nicknamed “galamsey” in Ghana, and asked the government to make the task force render accounts on its activities.
“Galamseyers” are illegal miners and have over the years depleted Ghana’s forest cover. Their activities also pollute water bodies due to the crude and unregulated nature of the mining process.
Mr Kwadwo Atta Apeakorang, Founder and President of the Save the Nation for Future Leaders, and a resident of Akyem Adasawasi, in the Atiwa East Constituency, addressing the News conference, said there were some illegal miners, without licenses who were still engaging in mining in the area.
Mr Apeakorang said the water in the Birim River was still polluted to the extent that it could not be used for washing; and cautioned that continual pollution of water courses that ended in the Volta Lake, the largest water body in Ghana would eventually pollute the lake, and add to the cost of treating the water to make it potable.
Ghana, he said would in the long-run import drinking water at exorbitant prices.
The degraded land, he said, can also not be reclaimed.
On Operation Vanguard, Mr Apeakorang accused some of the members of the Operation Vanguard Task Force of conniving with illegal miners to frustrate the good intention of the President, citing for example that members of the task force gave advance notice to illegal miners recently when the civil society group jointly carried out checks on illegal mining in the area.
Mr Apeakorang challenged the touted benefits of mining in the face of environmental degradation, cost of anti-illegal mining equipment and machines, and social costs in terms of teenage pregnancy and high level of drug abuse and soaring levels of criminal activities in mining communities.
He angrily called for a “shoot and kill” legislation to deal with anyone found to be engaged in illegal mining.
According to Mr Apeakorang, the Save the Nation for Future Leaders civil society group had petitioned the Office of the President, the Office of Parliament, the Office of the Inspector General of Police and other government agencies on the matter.
He said after two weeks, if the group does not get any satisfying response from the offices petitioned, it would organize a massive demonstration to buttress its request for mining to be declared illegal in Ghana.