By JEFFREY ELAPA
THE management of Ramu nickel mine (MCC) is yet to submit its relocation development plan for the people of the special mining lease (SML) area.
Provincial government mining coordinator, John Bivi, said MCC had been delaying the relocation although construction of the mine had been completed and operations expected to start early this year.
“The landowners and the government have not been informed when the relocation exercise will take place.
“The relocation exercise should have taken place during the mine construction phase.
“Now, the mine is going to start operating soon, as published by the developer.
“What is happening to the landowners’ interest and well-being?” Mr Bivi said.
But MCC says: “It is to be pointed out that we are working closely with the Madang provincial government, updating them on the relocation progress from time to time.
“Since the early part of 2008, we have a relocation committee which consists of the representatives from the developer, Madang provincial government and affected landowners, and we are meeting regularly.
“Despite the halt in the relocation work at the Danagari site due to bad weather conditions, 10 houses had been completed at Enequwai in the latter half of last year and another 25 houses have been ordered
with local landowner companies and are currently on their way to the relocation site at Krumbukari to be erected.
“The contract for an additional 35 houses at both Enekuai and Danagari has been signed with Krumbukari Ltd, the local landowner umbrella company, as part of their spin-off benefits.
“As per the contract, the Krumbukari Ltd is required to complete the houses before April,” the company said.
“Meanwhile, we have already temporarily relocated affected villagers at Butua and Vianivi to Palai and Bati, both of which are far from the disturbance of industrial activities.
“Allowances and building materials were provided for the temporary relocation.
“Those temporary relocatees will be moved to the new houses after the relocation houses are completed.”
Mr Bivi said: “The people have been issued notices to stop all activities like gardening, building new or expanding villages, refrain from using existing cemeteries and settlements on areas covered by the SML.
“The basic rights of about 700 people are being denied while they are being forced to move. MCC must start
addressing the issue,” he added.
The provincial authorities wanted MCC to work together with all stakeholders and have regular consultations and dialogues for the benefit of the project.
The provincial government appealed to the developer and the National Government to publicly reveal the progress of the relocation and when it will take place.
MCC, acknowledging the minor delay in the construction of houses by landowner contractors, intends to minimise the delay and the full relocation exercise would occur simultaneously with the operation of the mine.