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DUKE OF YORK ISLANDS, Papua New Guinea (February 14, 2000 – The National)---The East New Britain provincial government is expected to announce this week its plans to relocate about 40,000 Duke of York people whose islands are sinking.

The provincial government’s plan calls for the acquisition of plantations on the mainland of the province on which to relocate the people.

Provincial Administrator Hosea Tubarat said last week that the Provincial Executive Government (PEC) is expected to approve a submission on the matter at their meeting next week.

Tubarat said the submission was deliberated on and endorsed this week by the provincial development team, which is comprised of senior officers of the province's administration.

He assured the people of the island that their concerns were given full consideration. He added that Governor Francis Koimanrea would unveil the details of the resettlement plan when it is formally approved.

Reports of the islands sinking prompted the administration to send a team to investigate. The team reported that the islands were sinking several millimeters every day and recommended that the people on the island be relocated.

The United Nations had earlier carried out a study of the islands and reported that a school area, a government wharf and a large portion of coastline and vegetation – including villages – were already underwater.

Talks of resettling the people on the mainland has already drawn resentment, particularly from the Baining people, whose leaders do not want their land used to resettle the islanders.

Councilor Levi Orong of the Sinivit local level government in the Baining area said his people do not want any more Tolais resettled on their land.

Orong said some of their land was occupied at Sikut after the volcanic eruption without their permission and they do not want any more islanders to move in.

Duke of York leaders have said they are prepared to resettle in Namatanai, New Ireland, if no land is found on New Britain.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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