By Rayon Lakingu – EMTV News, Port Moresby
A group of landowners from Gulf Province has called on the Government to defer the signing of the Papua LNG Gas Project agreement until all landowner’s issues are resolved. The Purari Development Association Inc. (PDA) yesterday filed a judicial review with the National Courts to seek justification on the legitimacy of their Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL). They said that the state has fraudulently given their SABL title to an individual and the people need to know who the legitimate landowner is. PDA is the umbrella body representing eight tribes in the Baimuru Sub-District of the Gulf Province. The association is the Holder of a Special Agriculture Business Lease portion covering up to 600 thousand hectares which belongs to the 8 tribes, and the Papua LNG Project lies in this area.
They claimed that their SABL lease was given to an individual without their consent. “We want the state to know that you have issued the title to us according to the process, and you again are trying to take that title away from us following the process. So we are here at the courts, the only avenue left for all landowners to come for all their grievances.” PDA General Secretary, Roy Evara Junior said.
He said there were many issues raised by landowners which the Government has failed to address and the courts are the only option they have to help them solve their issues.
“We are here to file the case in the hope that we can bring some sense of respect and give empowerment back to the people, because the courts are our only hope, when the State is not listening to the people,” He said. The landowners also claimed that the Government and the developer did not take into consideration some recommendations put forth by PDA. A former Kikori MP, Roy Evara, said the landowners must have a share in all LNG shipments leaving their shores.
“We need shares and some of our concerns stipulated in the paper have not been highlight by the Government,” Roy Evare said. Lawyer Representing PDA, Zachary Gelu, said the Government may continue in signing the agreement on Friday, however, it will have severe impacts on the people following the court’s decision.