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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Nov. 30) – The Fiji Electricity Authority paid a cheque for $9.4 million (US$5.4 million) to the Monasavu landowners - the initial payment of the FJ$52.8 million (US$30.7 million) awarded by the High Court.

The cheque was deposited at the High Court in Suva by the Electricity Authority as the deadline for the first payment ended today.

The landowners were awarded FJ$52.8 million as compensation for the use of their land by the authority as a hydropower plant.

Landowners' lawyer Isireli Fa said details of individual payment to the landowners could not be released because the courts were still working on the process of distributing the money.

Members of 14 clans in Monasavu will receive the FJ$9.4 million in the first of what is believed to be the largest compensation payment in Fiji's history.

Most of the recipients are villagers with up to 100 members in some clans.

The Monasavu landowners have set up trusts for each of the 14 clans who will receive the FJ$52.8 million payout from the Fiji Electricity Authority.

Each trust will decide whether to invest 60 per cent of their funds and share the remainder amongst the members of the clan or vice versa.

The landowners expect to receive the next payment of FJ$1 million (US$581,500) early next year and lesser amounts annually thereafter.

In a landmark judgment on October 31, Justice Gerard Winters agreed that the 14 land owning units were owed FJ$52.8 million by the Electricity Authority for the construction of the Monasavu hydro-dam [on Viti Levu island] in 1985.

The Fiji Electricity Authority and the landowners had agreed to an out-of-court goodwill payment of FJ$52.8 million in 2000, but the matter could not be resolved then.

December 1, 2005


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