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‘Special leases’ called cover for logging, mining

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 28. 2010) – Papua New Guinea villagers are angry their government has allocated more than a million hectares of pristine forest for what the Government calls special agricultural leases - which they describe as a land grab for logging.

At a landowner meeting in Kiunga, Western Province this week, hundreds of disgruntled villagers said their land had been given away without any informed consent or notification.

Western Province now has half of PNG’s allocated 4.3 million hectares of Special Purpose Agricultural and Business Leases.

PNG’s build-up of these so called special leases has enraged green groups, NGOs and numerous government officials who contacted the AAP newsagency to raise their concerns that PNG’s forests were under threat from oil palm or logging by stealth.

Western Province’s North Fly MP Boka Kondra, says it’s a grave concern.

He says land is being given away and there’s no knowledge of the implications.

The Western Province Land and Resource Owner federation chairman, Paul Katut, says the landowners have been duped.

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