CONFLICTING LAND OWNERSHIP CLAIMS AT PNG SITE

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One clan negotiated $765,000 compensation

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, September 1, 2009) – New information obtained by the Post-Courier suggests that the Pina clan that last week shut the Hides gas power plant and later opened it after an offer of K2 million [US$765, 000] compensation was made - are not the rightful landowners.

Another group that claims to be the genuine landowner of the site of the power plant that powers the giant Porgera mine also want K2 million if the Pina clan was to be paid K2 million by the Government.

The Hiwa Koma Land Group Inc. (ILG No.9025) say the land is theirs and not the Pina clan who have resettled on the land.

In a letter dated yesterday to the Petroleum and Energy Secretary Rendell Rimua, the group’s chairman, Andagali Kurubgo, said: "We say if the Pina clan is paid any money, the Hiwa Koma should be paid the same. We understand the Minister is paying K2 million as reported in the two dailies so we request for payment as customary land title owners of the said land."

On July 21 1991, the Special Land titles Commissioner, Arnold Amet named Pina clan as owners of the land in question under the principle of "adverse possession" in the absence of the Hiwa Koma tribe which did not take part in the Hiwa versus Tuguba court battle.

"Adverse possession’ means ownership without lawful right in the absence of the rightful owners.

The first Lands Department report put down Hiwa Koma as the owner of the power plant site.

Mr Kurubugo said the Pina clan refused to go to a Tari local land court to endorse or dispute the land mediator’s reports resulting in the Port Moresby District Court making a permanent order that Hiwa Koma was the rightful customary titleholder of the Hides Gas project area land on the July 7, 1993. On April 22, 1999, land mediators reconfirmed the decision and paid Hiwa Koma K33,220.

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