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Parliamentary action draws outrage

By Rosalyn Evara PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 1, 2010) - The near-unanimous decision by Parliament outlawing third party lawsuits against resource projects in the country has caused an uproar among the people in Madang.

Some have already vehemently stated they would not take this decision lying down.

According to reports, the amendments to the Environmental Bill, which was passed 73-10, meant that the restraining order preventing the Ramu nickel cobalt mine project in Madang from operating would be lifted and operations would resume.

Reports are that Environ-mental Minister Benny Allen had among other things told Parliament last Friday that the amendments would supplement and give full effect to enable holders of environmental permits to comply with the standards and requirements stated in their permits. Further it would also mitigate against risks associated with third party litigation or lawsuits.

The passing of the Bill comes at a time when more than 7000 people not only from Raicoast but also from in and around the province had been awaiting a formal response from the Government to a petition which they had delivered to government ministers including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Mines Dr. Puka Temu, Mr. Allen, Madang Governor Sir Arnold Amet and Raicoast MP James Gau Gelak at Bongu village.

Sir Arnold accepted the invitation to receive the petition from the villagers more than three weeks ago and had extended an invitation to Temu and Allen to also attend the event.

During the time the people had made it clear that while they were not against the project they were against the company and government’s choice of mine waste management.

They stressed that they had enough evidence to prove deep sea tailing placement to be unsafe and had stressed that this would not be allowed. George Ireng, a young elite whose mother comes from Bongu village in Raicoast District, had headed the petition and yesterday described the decision by the Government as "a direct insult, especially to the concerned people of Raicoast’’.

Speaking from Madang yesterday an irate Mr. Ireng said they had given the Government 21 days to properly and formally respond to the petition which they had delivered. e said this deadline had lapsed yesterday and they would be forced to take further action if an answer was not forthcoming from Sir Arnold and the Government.

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