The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has defended its decision asking Exton Cubic Group to halt prospecting of Bauxite in the Tano-Offin Forest Reserve in the Ashanti Region.
EPA insists that Exton breached the agency’s requirement during the exercise.
Exton Cubic which is prospecting Bauxite in the Forest Reserve together with Ibrahim Mahama’s company; Engineers and Planners (E&P), have been in the news lately after the Ashanti Region Minister, Simon Osei Mensah confiscated vehicles and equipment belonging to E&P.
[contextly_sidebar id=”73NgRYO2lMk4QTAfnPihg8qEhn9jTMSN”]The EPA subsequently waded into the fray chastising Exton Cubic and asked it to halt operations and take steps to “obtain the necessary approvals and permits as may be required by law from the Forest Commission on Water Resources Commission and the Environment Agency or any other regulatory body.”
Defending its actions against Exton on Citi FM’s news analysis programme, The Big Issue on Saturday, the Acting Director of Public Affairs at EPA, Mrs. Angelina Mensah argued that the company failed to comply with some laid down procedures of EPA.
She explained that Exton was supposed to among other things inform EPA before entering the forest and they were also supposed to undertake a liability estimate of environment degradation in the area saying such things were not done.
According to her, the liability estimate required that Exton engages consultants and persons versed in mining to “assess the pristine nature of the forest” and also create a fund “called reclamation bond” so that if any destruction was done during the prospecting “that money is used to remediate it.”
Mrs. Mensah said the requirement was expected to have been fulfilled within three months after obtaining the prospecting permit but the requirement was ignored.
“The condition also states that if you do not do these things within three months we have to cancel, revoke or suspend your permit. Unfortunately they did not come back to us, by the time we could say jack, they were in the Nyinahin forest entering. You needed to inform the EPA before they did that. So it’s got nothing to do with their mining but instead it’s got to do with the fact that they did not go with the legal ambit of the EPA’s environmental assessment process,” she stressed.
EPA failed to reply our letters
But the spokesperson of Exton, Sammy Gyamfi who also spoke on The Big Issue rejected the claims by the EPA.
He also insisted that they received no response from the EPA after writting several letters to them.
“We have gone through our permits; the L.I. the Acts, there is no such three months requirement. Ask them that in line with the principles of natural justice have they drawn our attention to any breaches for which we have failed to remedy. If you need information do you just go to the media and revoke permits without writing to us or giving us a permit?”
Exton Cubic to sue gov’t over seizure of equipment
Exton has further written a letter to the Attorney General expressing its intention of proceeding to court if equipment belonging to Engineers and Planners are not released to them.
“We have been instructed by our client that the seizure and detention of the said trucks has not only adversely affected our client’s business operations but has occasioned and continues to cause our client, financial loss,” the letter signed by lawyer of the Exton Group added.
By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana