Ten Civil Society Organizations have announced they are planning to drag the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to court for what they call the fraudulent way in which the organization went about approving the destruction of Bugoma Forest reserve for sugarcane growing.
The CSOs revealed this today Sunday August 23, during a news conference in which they protested the giveaway of the protected forest for meeting
The CSOs allege that NEMA violated several provisions of the law in approving the Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) that was conducted by Hoima Sugar Limited (HSL).
The giveaway of the biologically diverse Bungoma has split opinion including within government where the Minister of Water Sam Cheptoris is on record for opposing the giveaway while other officials in government support the move.
The planned suit comes in the wake of NEMA’s approval on August 14, 2020 of HSL’s Environmental And Social Impact Assessment to destroy the 22 square mile land that is located in Kyangwali.
The planned suit comes at the time some CSOs are battling NEMA another case in the Court of Appeal in which the Civil Society activists and National Forestry Authority are fighting for the protection of biodiversity.
Dickens Kamugisha, the Chief Executive Officer of Africa Institute for Energy Governance, AFIEGO, says that NEMA intended to legalize an illegal process to give away the entire Bugoma forest for conversion into a sugarcane plantation which puts Ugandans at risk.
Kamugisha says they have resolved to take NEMA to court challenging the issuance of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment certificate of Approval, in order to conserve Bugoma Forest.
“Tomorrow (24th August 2020) we shall file a case in the High court against NEMA and the Executive Director of NEMA as an Individual for issuing the ESIA Certificate of Approval to Hoima Sugar Limited to destroy Bugoma Forest in Total violation of the laws of Uganda,” Kamugisha said.
Kamugisha said that the certificate of approval to Hoima Sugar limited is a product of fraud, adding that NEMA never held a public hearing to consult as provided in the law.
“If the ESIA certificate is not revoked within eight days from the 23rd of August 2020 , we shall organize massive demonstrations in Kampala, Kikube and Hoima districts to express our disappointment against NEMA and government,” Kamugisha.
He called upon all Ugandans use the powers derived from article 1 of the Constitution to save Bugoma forest since the forest land was leased by Bunyoro Kingdom against the will of National Forestry Authority that is mandated with management of all Natural forests.
The group further demanded that Parliament investigate NEMA senior staff for taking part and facilitating fraud to destroy any Bugoma Forest.