‘Claims were false’

Vereniki Naqiolevu (middle) of Wainatava Settlement near Navunikabi Village in Namosi stresses a point during the Hydro Fiji Namosi Project consultation earlier this week. Picture: JONA KONATACI

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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