THE East New Britain provincial government is negotiating with Rabaul Catholic Archdiocese to acquire and develop Putput freehold land owned by the Catholic church.
Provincial administrator Akuila Tubal indicated their intentions to purchase Putput, but did not indicate any policies on how to use the land.
An initial proposal from the ENB provincial government was to use the land for resettlement purposes, however, a discussion paper is now being framed by the Lands Division for approval to manage such free land allocation to the people.
Putput freehold, which is native to tribes of Mengens, Sulkas, Malis and parts of Butam, is owned and titled under the Catholic church and comprise coconut plantations extending more than almost 17,000 hectares.
In a series of meetings with the church that were also attended by Pomio MP, Paul Tiensten, the administration proposed that Putput was ideal for township and the environment was very conducive should it be a substitute for Rabaul town.
Other proposals have indicated for a growth centre and other services to be improved in accordance with any developmental plans that would be supported by the Pomio district.
Mr Tiensten raised concern on the welfare of people inhabiting reserve land or has resettled in parts of Putput to be taken into consideration when the land was acquired to ensure that the native inhabitants were properly catered for.
Archbishop Karl Hesse said the church was prepared to deal with the government on a one-on-one basis to see the eventual acquisition of Putput, however, the church would like to keep a portion of Putput (50-60ha) for the Catholic church’s activities and other developments to assist the people in spiritual development.
The provincial administration, through the provincial division of Lands, has engaged a survey on a portion of 5,000ha equivalent to a value of almost K1 million, which legal procedures were underway in preparation for the purchase.
The portion will be used as a model for planning that will pave the way for partnership development from all stakeholders with emphasis on host communities to be more involved in economic activities.
Mr Tubal has indicated that having the corridor development already in the pipeline along with other developmental plans of the ENBPG, there were major activities on the drawing board that would benefit every part involved in the development of Putput.
Archbishop Hesse reiterated the church’s stand that the time was right and ENBPG must now come in and fast track documentation for the acquiring of Putput.