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 the government bodies to allow further consultation in relation to the proposed sand mining project.
Sir Arnold has echoed sentiments by people in the Sumgilbar LLG area that their views against sand mining have not been adequately heared.
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 Amet. 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 recognized nesting areas of the endangered leatherback turtles.
Sir Arnold Amet and anti sand mining activist, Wenceslaus Magun, appeared on EMTV’s Infocus program said the matter could end up in court and end up 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 the project is in it 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.