In continuation of it’s determination to rid the state of illegal mining activities, Enugu State Government, Monday, September 25, sealed two illegal coal mining sites, Agu Umuaka mines ,Nsude, Udi local government area , and Okpara mines, Akwuke.,Enugu South local government area
Speaking after visiting the sites, the state Commissioner for Environment and Climate Change,Prof. Sam.C.Ugwu, who was accompanied by the Special Adviser(SPA)Energy and Mineral Resources to the Governor, Kingsley Nnaji Esq. expressed sadness that despite the warning issued by the State Government recently, some people were still engaged in the illegal activities.
He lamented the level of environmental devastation, the coal mining activities had cause.
He said, ” our observations are very devastating . We have seen illegal sites We have sealed these places and we will be monitoring.these places.
” We saw exhibits, catapillar, trucks ,workers, coals to show mining is going on here.
The Commissioner, who is the Chairman of the Committee on Review of Mining Activities in Enugu State, said the illegal deforestation, diversion of water bodies and degradation of hundreds of hectares of land by the miners could trigger ecological disaster if nothing was done to prevent further unregulated mining activities in the state.
“It is unfortunate that this kind of damage is going on in Enugu State without the approval of the Enugu State Government. It is very very sad. The government is not happy about it, and we will continue this way till we close all the mining sites in Enugu State. It has caused a lot of ecological damage.
“It will take many years for Enugu State to recover from this humongous damage on our environment.
“We are really worried about what is going on, and we are sealing them. These criminal acts are unacceptable. There will be no more activities here. We will be monitoring them morning and evening and ensure the places we have sealed are not tampered.”
Serving a letter of invite on the miners,Prof. Ugwu said those with genuine mining licences, approvals and other evidence of compliance with the standard practice should visit the State Government for verification.
He called on genuine investors who are willing to invest in the energy and minerals sector of the economy to approach the state through the laid down process, maintaining that the government was interested in making the state attractive for investors by derisking investment flow.
Meanwhile, residents and communities across the state have continued to protest against the activities of the illegal miners, saying that the miners had been threatening them with security agencies and unlawful arrests by operatives illegally attached to protect them at the various sites.
They called for the arrest and prosecution of those destroying the environment, insisting that the miners had no stake in the state as most of them were not from the state even as the coal was being transported outside Enugu State for industrial use and export purposes.
An environmental expert in the state, Engr. Amara Victor, said the mining activities should be taken as a time-bomb that would trigger ecological and environmental catastrophe if the state government did take decisive steps to enforce the closure of those sites.
Engr. Raphael Edeh, a soil and environment impact assessor, who had been following the trends of the illegal mining activities, called on the government to go after the culprits destroying the state and the insiders colluding with them, adding that the state could soon experience landslides and earthquake if no proactive measure was taken.
He said the environment in certain communities were presently contaminated such that farming activities and water could no longer be safe for drinking as the miners had already destroyed their sources.
At the mining sites at Nsude and Akwuke were a number of heavy-duty trucks, excavators, caterpillars, coal-loaded trailers, among other machinery used for the illegal mining activities.
Author: Maureen Ikpeama