At least 12 excavators were on Monday seized by the personnel of the Operation Halt II in the Atwima Mponua and Amansie South districts of the Ashanti Region in a special operation on Monday.
At the Amansie South District, the military team handed over the seized excavators to the police at Datano as the control boards were removed, while others were handed over to the Atwima Mponua District Assembly.
The visit to the various sites showed that vast lands within the two districts have been badly destroyed due to illegal mining.
Hectares of arable land were still being destroyed by the galamseyers within Atwima Mponua district.
The operation, according to the team leader, Colonel Ansah Akrofi, would continue for days to curb the illegal mining menace following the wanton destruction of the environment.
About three weeks, 300 chanfans used in illegal mining in rivers were impounded and burnt during a two-day operation carried out by a task force put together by the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM), in collaboration with the Atwima Mponua district Assembly.
Five persons, including the Assembly Member for the Kotokuom Electoral Area, Akwasi Poku, were arrested in connection with illegal mining activities in some communities along River Offin.
Four other suspects were picked up at Abompe, Abaasua, Amaada and Agogoso in the Atwima Mponua District.
Nana Yaw Owusu, Nana Appiah, Opanyin Kuffour and Opanyin Kwaku Duah were among seven elders that had been selected to serve as Dikro in the absence of a chief for Kokotuom.
They have been handed over to the Nyinahini Police for the necessary legal action.
A large number of illegal mining operators, on seeing the task force, fled, leaving their mining equipment behind.
The task force led some selected media houses on a tour of the polluted Offin River and destroyed forest reserves as part of the campaign against illegal mining in the area.
The Vice-President of GNASSM, Sampson Kofi Wiredu, explained that the tour was to give the media an insight into what was happening and confirm that, indeed, some traditional leaders and people in leadership roles were deeply involved in illegal mining which was threatening their jobs.
He said the association was keen to lend support to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to fight the social menace.
“People are very much involved in galamsey and it is affecting all of us. We will expose and report any traditional leader who will be found in connection with illegal activities in his community,” Mr Wiredu cautioned.
He commended residents for giving the hint which led to the arrest of the assembly member, saying that all needed to come on board to fight the menace.
FROM KINGSLEY E.HOPE, KUMASI