GM Sugar Bosses Defy Presidential Order on Protecting Environment, Arrested Over Degradation  

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The Environmental Protection Police Unit (EPPU), an enforcement created to support the Ministry of Water and Environment (MoWE) in enforcing environmental laws and regulations arrested three Indian Nationals attached to GM Sugar Uganda Limited, a sugar manufacturer located in Njeru Municipality , Buikwe District, for allegedly causing environmental degradation and air pollution.

Officials from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), detectives from Uganda Police Force and Local leaders netted the Indians after numerous reports that they were discharging raw affluent into water bodies in Buikwe which pose serious threats to the lives, quality and resilience of all ecosystems and human health.

An official from the NEMA delegation told our reporter that they decided to storm this facility because of its failure to operate with the set guideline by NEMA.

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He said that during an inspection exercise they carried out, they discovered that the factory was discharging raw affluent into wetlands and lake Victoria which has caused damage to water sources.

NEMA and Police sources say the suspects will be charged with emptying raw chemicals into a water source which is used for human consumption which violates NEMA act.

For years, residents in Buikwe district have also protested emissions and waste from GM sugar factory. The factory allegedly discharges Bagasse, a dry pulpy waste resulting from the extraction of juice from sugar cane into the environment.

Locals say their crops have weathered because of bagasse, which also contaminates water yet their pleas to the district authorities to restrain the factory from discharging the waste into the environment haven’t yielded results.

Wastewater discharge contains several harmful substances or chemicals, which may cause adverse environmental impacts such as changes in aquatic habitats, species composition, and decrease in biodiversity.

Studies show that Waste disposal sites (WDS) pose serious threats to the health, quality and resilience of all ecosystems and human health.

Industrial wastes have adverse effects on the water quality. High levels of pollutants in water bodies and protected areas cause an increase in biological oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), total dissolved solids (TDS), and total suspended solids (TSS).

Industries are generating volumetric wastes which are discharged without treatment into nearby water bodies, potentially degrading their water quality. The factory reportedly uses outdated manufacturing technologies and does not have efficient seepage treatment plants. Therefore, raw and harmful wastes are discharged into the surrounding water bodies.

In Uganda, it is estimated that over 30,000 people die annually due to air pollution-related illnesses while ambient air quality levels in monitored urban centres are estimated at over 5 times the WHO annual guidelines.

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