The Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources has called on the public to report illegal gravel extractions to their Acting Director Lands, Raijeli Taga, following the recent discovery of unlicensed extracting by a company in Nadi.
A monthly inspection by the ministry’s Department of Mineral Resources found that gravel was being extracted by SSS Investment at Mosi River in Nawaka, Nadi.
“Illegal river gravel extractions continue to be a problem affecting many river systems around the country with the Mosi River in Nadi being the latest case,” a Government statement noted.
“Further investigations on the issue will be conducted with the inclusion of all relevant stakeholders. The villagers of Yavuna have been advised by the inspection team to report any future illegal activities to the Ministry. The Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources through its monitoring by the Environment Division continues to raise public awareness on river resources ownership and its sustainable management to ensure that benefits reach the resource owners within the legal process.”
In a separate incident, equipment was confiscated from HRF Investment early last month.
Companies wanting to extract river gravel and sand need to obtain licenses from the Lands Department.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture Minister this week issued a cheque amounting to $3.72 million as payment from the Committee for Better Utilization of Land (CBUL) Program to the I Taukei Trust Board (TLTB), the administrators of Native-owned land.
The CBUL was established in 2010 to aid farmers with lease renewals in agricultural areas. TLTB General Manager, Tevita Kuruvakadua, said the board would disburse the funds to individual landowners’ bank accounts, with a total of 1479 iTaukei landowning units whose land are leased out for agricultural purposes being paid, of which 733 are in the Western Division, 347 in the Northern Division and 395 in the Central/Eastern Divisions.
“The rent subsidy incentive addresses the inequitable return that landowners receive as rent on average five per cent of the Unimproved Capital Values (UCV) of ALTA charged by TLTB and top up by another five per cent by the Government to 10 per cent. A total of $50.5m has been paid as rent subsidy by the Government since the start of the initiative in 2010 which has been paid out in full to landowners as TLTB does not charge any poundage.
“Around 42 per cent of these payments have gone to landowners in Ba province while 32 per cent was paid to landowners in Macuata province. The initiative has provided an equitable platform for landowners to allow leasing of their land and receiving a fair return in the form of land rent whilst compelling the farmers to be productive as they operate under the security of their land tenure.”
Government notes that the impact was particularly for cane leases, which now amount to over 80 per cent.