Former Minister of Lands and Natural Resources underneath the erstwhile John Evan Atta Mills regime, Mike Hammah has uncovered members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) over the de-classification of the Achimota Forest Reserve.
Mr Hammah corroborated the reasons given by Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor following outbursts by some members of his occasion.
There had been accusations from some members of the NDC together with Minority in Parliament and a few social media followers that the federal government had offered parts of the reserve to personal builders.
According to the Minority in Parliament, the choice to categorise the Achimota forest as not a forest reserve any longer is harmful and doesn’t mirror the avowed goal of preserving the one inexperienced space in Accra and to a big extent restoring deforested land within the nation.
They mentioned doubtless the Achimota Forest is the one current greenbelt in Ghana’s capital metropolis, Accra and any resolution on that land ought to both add extra ecological worth to it or improve its current worth.
However, the federal government debunked such accusations.
The minister, Samuel Jinapor, at a press convention on Tuesday night, defined that the Executive Instrument, E.I. 144, pertained to 361 acres of peripherals of the Achimota forest that the federal government is returning to its custodial house owners, recognized because the Owoo household as a result of the land was not getting used for its supposed function, which included the extension of the Achimota School.
Mr. Jinapor pressured that “The constitution protects citizens from being deprived of their properties. It also talks about the government ensuring that when it acquires land, it ensures prompt, fair, and adequate compensation is paid to the original landowners. If the government doesn’t use the land for a very long time, the government will have to return it to its pre-acquisition owners. And the pre-acquisition owners here are the Owoo family.
“The key thing here is about biodiversity and not to go in there and clear the portion for buildings. You maintain what is there and even improve on it for development. So aside from spending money to protect the forest, you get some from tourism. The EI will not even allow for the [building of apartments] because it is not part of the plans.”
Confirming the assertion by authorities, Mike Hammah underneath whose tenure a committee was set as much as look into the petition from the Owoo household said that the federal government is appearing in the fitting course.
According to him, “Yes, there was a petition from the Owoo family, and the reason being that, over the years, the government has acquired a lot of the land and some compensation has not been paid. They thought that they were being denied their land.”
“Under the circumstances, we set up a committee to look into the petition and come up with recommendations consistent with our policy directions; moving away from the consumption value of the forest to the non-consumption value of the forest and promoting ecotourism and biodiversity conservation. That is what I inherited from my predecessor, Collins Dauda”, Mike Hammah advised Accra based mostly Citi FM.
The household’s quest to retain its land dates again to 2007 when it petitioned President John Agyekum Kufuor for the discharge of the portion of the Forest Reserve adjoining the Tema motorway.
After consultations between the Presidency, it was beneficial that the petition be granted.
Information accessible to DGN Online signifies that someplace in 2011, the Owoo Family, submitted one other petition to the then Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, for the grant of parts of the Forest Reserve.
The Minister constituted a committee to inquire into the legitimacy of the request that was ultimately granted.
Read under the background as outlined by the federal government:
In 1921, the Government of the then Gold Coast, by a Certificate of Title dated sixteenth December 1921, made underneath the Public Lands Ordinance, 1876, acquired from the Owoo Family the parcel of land on which the Achimota School is located.
Subsequently, by one other Certificate of Title dated seventeenth May, 1927, the Government acquired from the identical Family one other tract of land measuring roughly 4 hundred and seventy-nine (479) hectares as an extension to the Achimota School. Although there are receipts indicating cost of compensation for the 1921 acquisition, there aren’t any data of cost of compensation for the 1927 acquisition.
By an Order 31 of 1930, dated July 17, 1930, the Government, pursuant to its energy underneath the Forests Act, 1927, (Cap 157), constituted the land acquired in 1927, as a Forest Reserve for the needs of Fuel Wood Plantation for Achimota School.
Following a number of encroachments on the Forest Reserve, the pre-acquisition house owners, the Owoo Family, in 2007, submitted a petition to the then President, H.E. John Agyekum Kufuor, for the discharge of the portion of the Forest Reserve adjoining the Tema motorway. After consultations between the Office of the President and the related our bodies, it was beneficial that that portion of the Forest Reserve be launched to the Owoo Family. This culminated in an Agreement dated twenty fourth November 2008 between the Government, appearing by the then Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines, and the Owoo Family for the grant of a lease over ninety (90) acres of the land to the Owoo Family for a time period of ninety-nine (99) years. The Lease settlement was nonetheless not executed as agreed.
In 2011, the Owoo Family, submitted one other petition to the then Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Mike Hammah, for the grant of parts of the Forest Reserve. The Minister constituted a committee, chaired by the then Chairman of the then Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Mr. Samuel Afari Dartey, to inquire into the legitimacy of the request and its affect on the Forest Reserve.
The Committee after its investigations concluded that the request of the Owoo Family was reliable.
The Minister then, sought government approval to implement the suggestions of the Committee.
On fifth September, 2013, the then President of the Republic, H.E. John Dramani Mahama, gave Executive Approval for the conversion of the Forest Reserve into an Ecotourism Park, and to launch the peripheral parts of the Forest Reserve to the Owoo Family, in accordance with the suggestions of the Committee.
Pursuant to the mentioned Executive Approval, the Forestry Commission, appearing on behalf of the then President, H.E. John Dramani Mahama, three (3) leases executed in September 2013, granted these parts of the Forest Reserve to the Owoo Family for a time period of ninety-nine (99) years. The Family then registered the land in its title and granted sub-leases to different personal builders with the consent of the Forestry Commission. However, as a result of the land remained a Forest Reserve, by advantage of Order 31 of 1930, the lessees and sub-lessees couldn’t develop the land, though they’d obtained all the mandatory permits.
Pursuant to the identical Executive Approval, the Forestry Commission, appearing on behalf of the then President of the Republic, H.E. John Dramani Mahama, entered into an settlement with Aikan Capital, a restricted legal responsibility firm for the event of the core space of the Forest into an Ecotourism Park. The Commission additionally executed a lease settlement with the corporate in February 2016, by which 227.84 hectares of the Forest Reserve had been leased to the corporate to undertake the deliberate improvement.
The Owoo Family and their grantees, in a bid to develop the peripheral parts of the land which had already been granted to them, continued to petition Government to launch the peripheral parts as a Forest Reserve. The authorities, after assessing all the scenario, and based mostly on the recommendation of the Forestry Commission, that the ecological integrity of the Forest Reserve won’t be compromised by the Release, determined to launch the peripheral parts of the land from the Forest Reserve.
This led to the publication of the 2 devices, the Forests (Cessation of Forest Reserve) Instrument, 2022 (E.I 144), and the Forests (Achimota Firewood Plantation Forest Reserve) (Amendment) Instrument, 2022 (E.I. 154). The first makes the peripheral parts of the Forest Reserve, which had already been granted to the Owoo Family in 2013, with parts developed, stop to be a Forest Reserve. The second, amend the world of the land that ought to proceed as a Forest Reserve.
However, as a part of measures to make sure that the world of the Forest will not be compromised, each Instruments comprise provisions that prohibit the character of the event that may happen on the land. Under E.I. 144 for instance, earlier than any improvement can happen on the peripheral parts of the Forest that has ceased to be a Forest Reserve.
Land Use and Spatial Authority shall put together a Master Plan for the event of the world, making an allowance for the ecological integrity of the remaining parts of the Forest Reserve.
The Master Plan should be permitted by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, appearing on the recommendation of the Forestry Commission;
No improvement can happen with out the categorical approval of the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, making an allowance for the ecological integrity of the Forest.
Source: Vincent Kubi/Daily Guide
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