DOREEN POLOH WAIM
THE Union of Watut River Community from Bulolo district has denied being given a K2.5 million community development proposal.
The proposal, by the Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV), was to have been delivered on Monday.
It contained ways to address the impacts of mining on communities along the Watut River.
In a statement released yesterday, MMJV’s general manager David Hume was said to have delivered the proposal during a meeting between Hidden Valley Joint Venture, the union and all levels of government in Lae on Monday at the meeting at Melanesian Hotel with the union and the provincial government and Mineral Resources Authority.
The statement said that it had set up a community development fund, designed to address impacts generated by the increased levels of sedimentation attributed to mine development at the Hidden Valley Gold Mine.
Mr Hume also said that this was in response to demands and concerns on social and economical impacts of affected communities.
He said the fund would allow for “much-needed” community benefits and services to be delivered, following close consultation and agreement with the affected communities and Government agencies.
However, the interim president of the union, Reuben Mete, said yesterday that the union was not aware that the meeting on Monday with MMJV was to discuss the K2.5 million proposal.
He said he only knew that the meeting was for MMJV to address their petition regarding an extended 21-day ultimatum that lapsed on Monday to pay a K1.5 million compensation for their claims on environmental damages and pollution of the Watut River since 2005.
He said the union only learnt of its existence during the meeting and had discussed it lightly.
But Mr Mete said the union had not sighted the proposal.
He also said that the union was unaware that the meeting was to discuss the proposal which “was never heard of in the first place”.
“The union has also lost trust in other agencies and the provincial government because of their failure to address the issue initially,” Mr Mete said.
He said after the failure of MMJV to meet their demands on Monday, the union was looking at an alternative cause of action.
Mr Mete said any meetings in future that MMJV wished to convene with the union would have to be held in Watut.