The National – Thursday, December 30, 2010
By RIGGO NANGAN
DESPITE the controversy over the voluntary environmental damage payment by Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV), the developers of the lucrative Hidden Valley gold mining in Wau, Morobe, told the affected communities along the Watut riverine that the company is still going ahead with the payments.
Affected communities in the Middle Watut area starting from Widipos settlement in the lower part of the Upper Watut ward to Wawas village in Mumeng local level government, are being paid this week starting on Monday.
A team of community affairs officers headed by the divisional manager, Stanley Komuts and senior officer, John Maran, conducted the payment at Widipos on Monday while a second team led by another senior community affairs officer, Maima Appa, was flown by helicopter to Wawas.
Communities in the Middle Watut ward included Widipos, Baiyune, Samsam, Palenkwa, Sambio and Taiyek.
The Middle Watut area is the last of the three wards to received payments.
The upper and lower Watut wards have already received their payments.
The payments were for land improvements – the built-up of sediments, and dieback – food and cash crops as well as the general vegetation along the river dying away due to access polluted water.
Komuts said that the company was living up to its commitment to compensate the affected and also to help them enjoy the New Year celebrations.
The compensation payments by the company have became the subject of a controversy with local MP, Sam Basil, saying the payment might jeopardise a possible investigation by contracted overseas toxicologists and environmentalists into the Watut River system.
The decision was later relaxed to allow the payment to go ahead after the affected communities demanded that they be compensated for their losses.
They said the proposed investigations might take longer and they might not be paid.
The communities said the investigations could still go ahead for the benefit of everyone in the long run.