The long-running controversy over the 41,000-hectare Bugoma Central Forest Reserve has taken a new twist.
Hoima Sugar Limited accuses the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) of reducing the acreage for sugarcane growing from the initial 22 square miles to only nine square miles in a decision taken by the regulatory body on August 14.
In the same measure, a group of 19 civil society organisations, under Save Bugoma Group, are also up in arms against NEMA over the giveaway of the forest land to Hoima Sugar Limited for sugarcane growing.
Details of the NEMA decision show that the environment body cleared Hoima Sugar to cultivate sugarcane on 9.24 square miles in Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, Kikuube district in western Uganda.
NEMA also allowed the firm to establish an urban centre on 1.26 square miles, an eco-tourism centre on 1.97 square miles and also restore 3.13 square miles of the forest reserve.
The top government environment watchdog also ordered Hoima Sugar to preserve 0.156 hectares for the cultural site and conserve 6.17 square miles as a natural forest.
This totals to 21.54 hectares of land (about 22 square miles) or 5,579 hectares. However, Hoima Sugar says the reduction of the initial 22 square miles to only nine square miles deprives the sugar company a right to grow sugarcane on the entire 21.54 square kilometres.