| My Land, My Country
LAE – Papua New Guinea’s former chief justice Sir Arnold Amet and leaders from the north coast villages of Madang have written to the Justice Department and the Mineral Resources Authority urging them to allow further consultation in relation to the proposed sand mining project.
Sir Arnold has echoed sentiments by people in the Sumgilbar local level government area that their views against sand mining have not been adequately heard.
Last year, the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) conducted a series of hasty mining wardens hearings.
It drew anger from villagers who said they were not given enough time to assess the information given to them and to respond.
Those concerns attracted the backing of senior, influential members of the Madang community including Sir Arnold.
The former chief justice says the people’s right to be heard has to been considered and that it would be wise for the government to allow for the consultation process to be extended.
This is a debate that could soon evolve into a court battle between the people from the north coast of Madang fighting to save their homes and government agencies appearing to back a Singaporean company hell bent on digging up their sandy beaches for export to an Asian market.
If the project goes ahead, people living along a 50 kilometer stretch will be displaced and their beaches dug up.
It will also result in the destruction of internationally recognised nesting areas of the endangered leatherback turtles.
Sir Arnold and anti-sand mining activist Wenceslaus Magun, appearing on EMTV’s Infocus program, said the matter could end up in court and embarrassing the government.
“We have written to the Justice Department asking them to talk to the MRA to extend the consultation process.
“We are of the view that it doesn’t have to go to court. The people’s right to be heard must be considered.”
Those who support the project argue that it is in its exploration stages.
But people in Sumgilbar who attended the wardens hearing say the government’s track record of fast approvals and limited consultation leaves them with little option but to protest.