Risky digging at Lunga to be issued with stop notice

RISKY DIGGING 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). Caption: The site at Lungga River that AJ Company is currently digging gravel at.
Advertise with Islandsun


AJ Company that is currently digging gravel at the eastern side of the Lunga Bridge will be issued with a stop work notice from the Environment Division.

Island Sun understands that officials from the Environment Division of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Risk Management and Meteorology (MECDM) yesterday met with officials from the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) over issues surrounding the operations of AJ Company.

From the meeting yesterday it was revealed that AJ Company had never applied for a development consent from the Environment division.

The development consent is very crucial and must be obtained first before development can take place.

However for the case of AJ Company, they have never applied for a development consent and the location of their operation is deemed risky for the general public.

The Environment division says they understand the project at hand for AJ is the construction of a building.

However, the construction is taking place in an area called ‘alluvial soil deposit’.

“Therefore it is very important that this Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is done first so that we can gather what the associated risks are with this kind of development. If the project is big, we will ask the developer to do a full scale assessment in which they will have to meet all the expenses.”

Information from the Environment division says, in all building projects, EIAs must be carried out first and development consent be granted before construction can take place.

Not only does consent has to come from the Environment division but also Town and country planning Board must also give approval to building plans and other nitty gritty that are very crucial for any development.

“Under law, there are approved consultants that will carry out the EIA. And for big structures, it will need at least baseline information as this might be risky for the public and those living downstream. So a yes or no for construction to proceed will be made once an EIA is carried out.

“But at this time, AJ Company will be issued with a stop notice. And then they are required to submit their application from which we will gather what their intentions are.

“They must include the necessary details of their application like digging of gravel, constructing a building and if they had considered the risk of flood and the impact it will have on their building.

“And for this assessment, EIA practitioners will assess the project site and report to the environment division the findings of the assessment.”

The Environment division says owners of the company will be inclined to pay a hefty fine or subjected to imprisonment if they rebuff the ‘stop notice’.