Thursday, April 28, 2011

Call to stall land leases

By ROSALYN EVARA, Post Courier
THE debate on the Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) has heightened in Madang with calls now being made to government to suspend the issuing of any more until proper investigations are conducted into the existing ones.
The calls are from landowners and non-government organisations in the province.
Speaking during a recent SABL meeting NGO worker Rosa Koian said government must move swiftly to taking this measure and seriously in light of the amount of land which had been acquired by this means, especially in the last six months.

“As of January 2011, a total of 5 million hectares of land, has been acquired through this means. 2.7million of which were acquired within just six months from 2010 and 2011.The land sizes are the equivalent to the land mass of Morobe and Madang Provinces put together. The government must find out about the processes which were involved in the issuing of these leases as many landowners were never made aware before their land was taken from them,” she said.
She said many of the companies obtaining these leases were obtaining them under the pretext of having the land developed for agricultural purposes but were more interested in the logging aspect which logically would have to take place first. The meeting heard that subsequent searches which had been done had found many of these leases to be signed off by very prominent people.

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