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Fiji: Namosi villagers protests against inadequate prior consultation concerning HydroFiji's dam project

A media report alleges that some Namosi villagers are concerned about the way they were consulted on the dam project that is proposed by HydroFiji to be constructed in the vicinity of their villages. The report alleges that only four consultations (as against 41) were conducted. Further, the report alleges that  villagers are concerned that the proximity of the proposed dam with will make them susceptible to flooding.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited HydroFiji to respond to the allegation. The company's response is linked below.

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Company response
1 September 2019

HydroFiji's response

Author: Dr. Philip van der Riet, HydroFiji

28 August 2019

...The matter...allude[d] to was addressed substantially in The Fiji Times dated Saturday 16 March 2019, in an article under the heading ‘Claims were false’, and I quote.

TLTB chief executive officer Tevita Kuruvakadua said claims made by the landowners that they were not being consulted on the issuance of these leases were false.

“I can confirm that a series of public consultations were made by our officers since 2015. If we have to count there are about 41 consultation meetings done to 18 villages and respective land owning units in Namosi who will be directly or indirectly affected by the three major leases or projects”, he said.

He went on to say and further outline the benefits of the project to the Nation of Fiji.

“It is estimated that the projects will save 30 million litres of fossil fuel and reduce emission by some 84,000 metric tonnes of carbon-dioxide per annum should the projects become fully operational.”

We consider no further comment is required as the statements by TLTB executive Mr Tevita Kuruvakadua are accurate and confirmed by HydroFiji.

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Article
31 August 2019

‘Claims were false’

Author: Vilimaina Naqelevuki, The Fiji Times

16 March 2019

A LOT of misinformation has been propagated by certain landowners and on social media platforms about the proposed construction of three hydro dams in Namosi, says the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) The dams which have an estimated cost of about $200m are to be built by Hydro Fiji Ltd.

TLTB chief executive officer Tevita Kuruvakadua said claims made by the landowners that they were not being consulted on the issuance of these leases were false.

“I can confirm that a series of public consultations were made by our officers since 2015. If we have to count there were about 41 consultation meetings done to 18 villages and respective landowning units in Namosi who will be directly or indirectly affected by the three major leases or projects,” he said.

TLTB confirmed that the total land area to be leased out by Energy Fiji Limited (EFL) for a period of 99 years was 203 hectares, 42.7 hectares on reserve land and 160.6 hectares outside reserve.

“Hydro Fiji will sublease from EFL for a period of 30 years. TLTB has issued letters of offer to two projects and still working on the third project where the land is within reserve and need to obtain the required consent,” TLTB stated.

Mr Kuruvakadua claimed majority of the landowners supported the three projects “The benefits provided to the landowners and the people of Namosi under these leasing arrangements including compensation for their natural resources as well as the provisions of other benefits like employment and business opportunities are quite attractive,” he said.

The TLTB added that with the support of the Department of Environment, the environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been conducted as required under the Environment Management Act 2015.

“It is estimated that the projects will save 30 million litres of fossil fuel and reduce emission by some 84,000 metric tonnes of carbon-dioxide per annum should the projects become fully operational.”

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Article
30 August 2019

Namosi Villagers Against Hydro Dam Project

Author: Wati Talebula, Fiji Sun

26 March 2019

Villagers from three villages in Namosi have stood their ground and voiced their oppotition to plants to build a dam in the vicinity of their villages.

...[V]illagers disagreed with a statement...that board officials held 41 consultations in 18 villages on the project.

Navunikabi Village liuliu-ni-koro (village leader) Rokowai Nikola said..."We have only had four counsulations. On the 4th consulation we walked out and protested....

"The first time they came they told us that the distance from the dam to the village was 3km and the second consultation they said it was 2km. However, some men from the village went to measure the distance and was 1.8km.

"...We don't have anything against the development in Namosi, but we don't agree with the location. We don't want the dam because we will be affected. There is a possibility of flooding."

Waivaka Village landowner Petero Leveni said..."During the meeting in Navua we were shown the EIA report, but it was about 300 pages. They must undertand that we will not be able to read all of them and it is in English...."

 

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