The Ugandan government has reassured the World Bank that it will honor its agreement of 2001, in which it promised to conserve the Kalagala area, including Mabira Forest, to lessen the negative environmental impact of the Bujagali Dam.
Daudi Migereko, minister of energy and mineral development, was quoted by the state-owned New Vision on Wednesday as saying the government still stands by its commitment of conserving the areas.
"We still stand by the Kalagala offset plan. We have a commitment and we stick to it. Kalagala will not be developed. I would like to assure our development partners that we can not go against the agreement," he said.
He said the government sent a letter to the World Bank on Monday restating its commitment of conserving the said areas.
Migereko's statement comes following increased public concern over government's proposed giveaway of part of Mabira Forest to a sugar producing company for expansion.
The proposed degazettment of the forest has led to violent clashes in the capital Kampala leaving three people dead and several injured.
Migereko said President Yoweri Museveni on Monday instructed the Minister of Water and Environment Maria Mutagamba to issue a statement on the issue.
Over the weekend, the World Bank expressed concern over the debate on the degazetment of Mabira Forest Reserve.
"The World Bank is consulting with its Ugandan counterparts over the issue of degazetment of Mabira Forest Reserve and any potential relevance it may have on our support to Uganda," said a brief statement of the World Bank.
In an agreement of April 25, 2001, the government committed itself to conserve Mabira and the areas around the nearby Kalagala falls on the River Nile to offset the adverse consequences of Bujagali Dam.
"The government of Uganda undertakes to conserve through a sustainable management program/budget the present ecosystem of Mabira Forest reserve and those portions of Mabira Forest Reserves on both banks of Kalagala Falls that have been degazeted," read the agreement signed between the then energy minister Syda Bbumba and the World Bank country manager Robert Blake.
Keeping Mabira Forest intact was a requirement of the World Bank for approving the hydroelectric project at Bujagali Falls.
The Bank is yet to give its final approval to the power project that is much needed to address the country's power crisis, which experts say is slowing down the country's economic growth.