FIJI GOVERNMENT RETURNS SOME NADI AIRPORT LAND TO INDIGENOUS OWNERS

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 30, 1999 - PACNEWS)---The Fiji Government has agreed to return a small portion of land, on which the Nadi International Airport is located, to the original indigenous landowners.

A Cabinet statement from Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka's office said about 12 acres of land would be restored to the land-owning units of Saunaka Village in Nadi.

It said the decision was made in accordance with the country's Crown Lands Act, which states that native land acquired for public purposes must be returned to the landowners if it is no longer required for public use.

"Government stresses that the only consideration in reverting the 12 acres is that the two parcels of land concerned are no longer needed for the airport purposes for which they were originally acquired," the statement reports.

"The Government also assures the tenants of residential and commercial leases on the land that their leases are secure and will continue uninterrupted."

The Nadi airport landowners, with the help of the Native Land Trust Board, have been lobbying the Government for compensation since last year. They wanted the land back saying it was being used for commercial purposes and not public use, as stated in the original lease agreement.

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