The Natural Resources Owners Committee is calling for a review of Environmental Impact Assessments conducted by private consultants in the country.
Permanent Secretary for i-Taukei Affairs Pita Tagicakirewa says that poor assessments by EIA consultants are usually paid by developers and is becoming a major concern for resource owners.
Tagicakirewa says the committee is also calling for the inclusion of provincial councils in any development projects in the country.
According to the PS, this comes amid concerns raised by resource owners about environmental damage caused by developers in villages and rural communities, and residents are often unaware of these development works.
“So the department of the environment is aware of the issue, and they have plans in place to help monitor the activities and assessment work carried out by the consultant because at times work is carried out to meet the demands of the developers.”
Tagicakirewa says that most of the impacts can be seen outside of the development site.
“So the issue is that once the environment is damaged, there is no power to stop the development, and there are ways to be followed once that happens that the department of environment can look into.”
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka believes that EIA is one of the key tools for the government when it comes to natural resource development.
“Once all the assessment is done, the consultant will then provide a breakdown of the risks and disadvantages of the area, and you should know that money is usually given to resource owners, but the main priority here is for the environment and natural resources not to be damaged.”
Meanwhile Tagicakirewa says relevant authorities are working on ways to improve the work carried out by developers and EIA consultants.