Editorial: Robust alternative livelihood for illegal miners is welcome news

Just yesterday, Aljazeera, a Doha-based media organisation that has revolutionised television broadcast in the world, carried a documentary about the impact of cremation on the environment in India. The media outlet showed millions of trees chopped down and dried, purposely for the cremation of thousands of bodies across India each passing day.

The chopping down of the trees was not the only thing that has ruffled feathers. The discharge of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is also a major concern to the television station.

Unfortunately, despite all the policy measures that have been put in place by the government of India, including the introduction of gas to crematoriums, the people still  believe it is not the right way to go and, therefore, continue to maintain the traditional method of using wood to cremate their loved ones. Already, there are international concerns about the environmental pollution in India, and the cremation factor is exacerbating the situation.

Though cremation is not popular in Ghana, we also have our own environmental challenges to deal with. The degradation of the environment, and pollution of our water bodies in the name of exploring for gold and other precious minerals, is our major concern. A country that has large forest cover shouldn’t be talking or discussing water shortages, but due to illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey, that is the situation confronting us today.

As we did point out in our last Friday’s editorial, the Ghana Water Company Limited sometimes finds it very difficult to draw raw water, treat and pump it to the residents of Sekondi-Takoradi and its environs. Reason? Illegal miners have polluted the rivers to the extent that no amount of chlorine can be used to treat the water. Regrettably, despite all the measures put in place by the government, including the deployment of soldiers to the mining enclaves to put the fear of God in them (illegal miners), they have become even more adamant.

Available information indicates that they are now mining in the night to avoid being caught by the security agencies. It is, therefore, not surprising that the turbidity level of rivers Pra and Ankobra, in particular, have gone high again. Though the illegal miners and their sponsors are causing irreparable damage to our water bodies, and the environment in general, it is also inhumane for the security agencies to open fire and kill them. This is the crux of the matter the government has to deal with.

The Chronicle is, therefore, happy with the pronouncement by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, that his outfit is going to come out with a robust alternative livelihood programme for these illegal miners to dissuade them from causing further destruction to the environment. But, as the Minister himself admitted, this is not the first time such a programme is going to be rolled out for these miners. It was previously done, but they failed or simply refused to avail themselves to any form of training that will make them employable in the job market.

Because they have seen ‘big money’, they see the alternative livelihood programmes as menial jobs which they should not waste their time on. The new programme the Lands Ministry intends to introduce must, therefore, be very ‘appetising’ to motivate them to abandon illegal mining. But, while this policy is welcoming news, it does not mean the Ministry should completely abandon the idea of pursuing the illegal miners in the bush.

No matter what the government does, there are some recalcitrant ones among them who will still go to the bush to destroy the environment.

Such people, in our opinion, should be considered as nation wreakers and dealt with by using all powers that have been bestowed on the state, to ensure clean environment for us and generation yet unborn.


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