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18.11.2005 Regional News

Minister urges District assemblies to apply for devt planning permits

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New Abirem (E/R), Nov. 18, GNA - The Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Yaw Barimah has called on District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies to encourage individuals and organisations to present their development applications to the statutory planning committee for development permits.

This, he said, will reduce the high rate of environmental pollution in the urban towns and cities in the country.

Mr Barimah was speaking at the Eastern Regional World Environmental day celebration at New Abirim in the Birim North District on Wednesday which was organized under the theme: "green cities, plan for the planet."

He said World Environment Day was instituted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNDP) and commemorated each year on June 5, is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness on environmental issues.

The Regional Minister said it has been projected that by the year 2025, eight billion people would be living on the earth where majority of them would be living in the urban areas and cities which is bound to change the nature and scale of humanity's impact on the environment. He said, though urbanization is associated with higher incomes, improved health, higher literacy and improved quality of life, it also faces environmental and social problems, including poor sanitation, water and air pollution and poor solid waste Management which requires a holistic approach to solve.

Mr Barimah commended the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for taking the lead with the development of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as an environmental management tool for mainstreaming environmental considerations.

He commended them for using that tool in development planning and for process and endorsed about 500 development applications covering various sectors of the economy in the Eastern Region.

The Eastern Regional Director of the EPA, Mr Kwesi Owusu-Sekyere said, over the years, a number of activities have been outlined and implemented, including the 500 (EIA), registration and permits in the energy, manufacturing, mining, health and hospitality sectors of the economy and sensitisation of tree growing activities in schools and communities to create the necessary environmental awareness and education of the people in the country.

He said, in the country and other parts of the world, waste management and the absence of well-structured layouts are affecting the sound management of the urban towns and cities and called on district assemblies and chiefs to co-operate to improve environmental sanitation. In a welcoming address, the Birim North District Chief Executive, Nana Emmanuel Acquah Frempong said, illegal mining (galamsey), sand winning, chemicals spraying, agricultural activities and illegal logging are some of the environmental challenges facing the district. He said the District Assembly was co-operating with the E.P.A. to prevent any environmental hazard in the district.

The Chief of Abirem, Nana Amo Kyeretwie who chaired the function urged the government to create more employment avenues for the youth in the communities to help reduce the high rate of illegal activities that degrade the environment.

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