Konoagil landowners petition Forest Minister over oil palm project

Landowners in the Konoagil Local Level Government area of Namatanai, New Ireland Province, have petitioned the Forestry Minister Douglas Tomuriesa over the manner in which a K430 million oil palm project was commissioned in Silur village recently.

The landowners are also ready to take legal action.

The petition presented to Tomuriesa outlined areas that the landowners deemed improper in the establishment of the oil palm project.

The petition questioned the process in which Walter Farmers Association under Laka Development Cooperation took to allow the launch of the project.

According to the petition, there was no proper consultation and consensus from the majority of the landowner groups nor the LLG, the Namatanai District Development Authority, the Provincial Executive Council and the Provincial Forest Authority.

The landowners questioned why there wasn’t any form of benefit sharing arrangement for the people and the LLG.

It is also alleged that the recent incorporation of ILGs from Lak, Konomala and Kandas areas within Konoagil were done in haste and without the involvement of the landowners.

The petition states that all ILGs should be deregistered and that due process is followed with consent from all relevant parties in getting them registered this time around.

The petition also outlined the following:

  • The absence of a copy of the Forestry Permit within relevant authorities, particularly the New Ireland Provincial Government
  • The lack of an Agriculture and Environmental Plan
  • An MOU/MOA was never signed between the landowners, the Provincial Government and the Developer
  • The need to settle outstanding issues surrounding traditional land boundaries

The people are now calling on the Forestry Minister to revoke the permit and put a hold to the oil palm project until all concerns raised in the petition are properly addressed.

Failure to do so will result in the landowners taking legal proceedings against the developer.

Meanwhile, it is understood the matter was brought to the attention of the Forestry Minister last year where an agreement between the landowners, the developer and relevant parties was reached whereby no permit was to be issued until all issues where addressed.

However, the issuance of the permit to the project developer to go ahead with the project has got the people questioning the whole motive of the project.

     

Author: 
Freddy Mou