Dr Seth Appiah Kubi, the National Director of Arocha Ghana says the exploration activities in the Atewa Forest do not only undermine the ecosystem of the watershed but also the human dignity of Ghanaians.
He said it affected, polluted and destroyed the source of three rivers which supply water to more than 5 million Ghanaians, including the Weija Dam. Dr Appiah Kubi, an Environmentalist, speaking under cross-examination led by
Leona Johnson-Abassah, a State Attorney, said Arocha Ghana might not be the organisation to determine the legality or otherwise of mining exploration in the forest, but “when the law is contravened, we all can see it and we can cry foul.”
Arocha Ghana and 10 other plaintiffs are challenging the Government’s move to mine bauxite in the Atewa Range Forest, contending that the government is undertaking mining activities in the Forest without mineral rights.
The Plaintiffs are urging the Court to compel the Government to restore or pay the cost of damages that had been caused because of recognisance, prospecting and clearing of roads in the Forest.
He said Arocha Ghana being a non-State actor used collaborative approach with State actors or the Government agency like the environmental agencies such as the Forestry Commission and Minerals Commission in their advocacy operations.
Asked, whether the State actors were cooperative in their collaboration, the witness said, not always, but indicated that in their engagements, they achieved their aims sometimes but not always.
He said, “when the law is contravened” by the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to mine bauxite in the Atewa Forest “we all can see it and we can cry foul.”
According to him, though institutions like Arocha Ghana, and the other 10 plaintiffs would not be the relevant authorities to determine the legality or others wise of mining in the forest.
The Environmentalist, who was the first witness for the plaintiffs tendered in his witness statement and the same was adopted by the Court presided over by Justice John Nyante Nyandu.
Dr Seth Appiah Kubi said even though they had not reached any consensus with the Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation (GIADEC) at the time, they went ahead to announce publicly that Atewa Forest is one of the three targeted areas for bauxite mining.
The witness said Arocha Ghana had engaged the Ghana integrated Aluminum Development Corporation (GIADeC) on several meetings but there was no compromise.
“Our engagement with GIADeC to exclude Atewa mining from the bauxite mining did not yield any results,” he added.
He said they went ahead to commission an exploration activity at the forest which was carried without due legal processes destroying part of the forest and all these activities were the pre-events for actual mining.
Dr Appiah Kubi said though he is not an expert in mining, “I have worked in mining related projects and activities, and I have been involved in conferences in mining, so I know a thing or two about the subject matter.”
He told the Court that Arocha conducted a search with the EPA to verify whether GIADeC had the requisite permit to undertake the recognizance and exploration activities at the forest, but nothing was found.
The Court presided over by Justice Nyantakyi has ordered the witness to file supplementary statements to provide the search report from EPA. The plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the right to life and dignity as enshrined
in the Constitution of Ghana, 1992 include (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.
It also sought a declaration that mining of bauxite in the Atewa Range Forest violates the right to life and dignity as enshrined under articles 13 and 15 of the Constitution of Ghana (1992).
An order, compelling the Government and its agents to take the necessary steps to protect Atewa Range Forest in accordance with its constitutional obligations as contained under article 36(9) of the Constitution (1992).
An order, restraining the Government, its assigns and agents, servants, workmen, allotees and guarantees whatsoever and howsoever described from undertaking mining and its related activities in the Atewa Range Forest.