By John Bosco Tugume
The Civil Division of the High Court of Uganda has dismissed the application where Hoima Sugar Ltd and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) were sued for allegedly destroying Bugoma Central Forest Reserve.
The duo was dragged to court by Water & Environment Media Network (WEMNET), National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO).
In their application, the trio accused NEMA of issuing a certificate of approval to Hoima Sugar Ltd to develop the Kyangwali Mixed Land Use Project, yet, according to the plaintiffs; the entire process was marred by flaws, procedural irregularities and without recourse to the relevant provisions of the laws and regulations.
The complainants also said this resulted into denying the interested parties including the applicants a chance to effectively put forth their views aimed at protecting their rights to a clean and healthy environment.
However, in his verdict, the presiding judge, Justice Musa Ssekaana, said it appeared the applications in the matter were premised on distorted facts with the applicants having attempted to suppress the real facts in order to make ‘flowery’ case in court.
Ssekaana added that the complainants exaggerated that the entire forest is being cleared for sugarcane planting or that 5,000 hectares (21 square miles) of the forest is being cleared for sugarcane growing.
The judge averred that in order to attract attention of the public and also to justify their existence as bodies concerned with environment protection and awareness, the applicants including WEMNET, NAPE and AFIEGO are trying to make all sorts of unsubstantiated allegations to win public sympathy.
As a result, Ssekaana dismissed the case.