Risky digging

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Gravel digging near Lunga bridge illegal, endangers lives

BY BARNABAS MANEBONA

THE company currently digging gravel at the eastern side of the Lunga Bridge is said to be carrying out an illegal activity.

It is reported that the company does not have a permit to carry out this operation plus it is posing a great threat for the people living downstream because of the changes done to the river bed which will affect the flow and route of the river.

Upon consultation with the Mines and Mineral division, it is found that such digging operation for gravel is under the category of mining process in which one needs a permit under the Mines and Mineral Act to extract gravel from any river.

“Whether they are using any permit for building or construction services, they must have a Building Material Permit (BMP),” said the mines and mineral division.

Island Sun understands that to obtain a BMP, approval must come from the Mines and Mineral Board.

Only five companies in Honiara have a BMP and this BMP is valid for only one year, but renewable.

Apart from acquiring a BMP, the mines and minerals division said an applicant must also have a development consent from the Ministry of Environment before they can be awarded with a permit from the mines and mineral board.

The development consent from the Environment division is mainly on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

EIA is the process of examining the anticipated environmental effects of a proposed project – from consideration of environmental aspects at design stage, through consultation and preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR).

The Mines and Mineral division revealed they have not seen any EIAR on the activity at Lunga Bridge and also questions the legitimacy of such activity.

“Such operation should be a kilometre away from the river in which that is not the case. They are only digging for gravel just beside the river.

“So it is not allowed for such operation to take place. The company does not have a work permit and there has not been any EIA process.

“They are breaking the law and operating illegally.”

The mines and mineral division added that operating beside the river currently is destabilising the normal flow of the river in which it will have an impact.

Island Sun has not been able to get comments from the Ministry of Environment on the EIA.

The Mines and Mineral Division said they understood the company is called AJ and they have already contacted them – but they (AJ) does not want to discuss with them (Mines and mineral division).

“They only said that they already have a permit from the landowners having spent money on the operation already also and they do not need any more permits,” said the Mines and Mineral Division.

AJ Company is said to have received the go-ahead for their operations by a former Minister in the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID).

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