Malolo Resort development under investigation
February 8, 2019 4:59 pm
A team from the Land’s Ministry is currently on Malolo Island in the Mamanuca Group to investigate a resort under construction.
Minister, Ashneel Sudhakar has confirmed to FBC News that according to the Ministry’s records, no license or lease was issued to the Freesoul Real Estate Development (Fiji) Ptd Ltd for development.
Sudhakar says the resort developer had been issued two ‘Stop Work’ Notices and a court order, however, it has been disregarded.
“I’m waiting for my team to return and I’ll see what breaches have been made and will take the necessary legal actions to stop them from going any further.”
He adds the land on which the resort is partially being constructed on is Itaukei/native land which is not leased by the Land’s Ministry.
However, he adds that any foreshore development, development on the watercourse or the lagoon is the state’s business.
“There has to be consent from us but we haven’t given any consent or permission to carry out the development. On their own accord they have destroyed some mangrove, reef, beaches, watercourse and state foreshore.”
The Minister says the actions of the developer is unlawful because no permission has been granted, there is no lease and no license issued by the Lands Ministry to carry out development in this area.
It’s also been confirmed that no license was also issued by the Environment Ministry.
If a permission was granted by the iTaukei Lands Trust Board than this means developments can only be carried out on dry land – meaning no wet lease.
The Environment Ministry has also today confirmed they’re taking legal actions on the basis of the offenses and the environmental damage which has been incurred on the island of Malolo.
Minister responsible, Dr Mahendra Reddy says the case was filed with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution in September last year.
Initially, the proposed resort was to include overwater villas, restaurants, a club, a casino, as well as beachfront units, ridge units, a kindergarten, a spa, and back-of-house facilities.
However, after conducting an environmental impact assessment (EIA), the number of accommodation units was reduced from 351 to 102, and the decision was made not to permit a casino.
Dr. Reddy adds a scaled-back version of the project with strict conditions were approved in December 2018.
However, it is clear that these conditions have been breached.
The Department’s involvement with FREDL’s Malolo Island project began on June 15, 2017, when the company lodged its EIA screening application with the intent to build a new resort.
Meanwhile, landowners’ lawyer, Dr Ken Chambers says they are not happy with all that has transpired thus far.