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Legal Proceedings Considered For Baka Tree Incident

Legal Proceedings Considered For Baka Tree Incident
September 05
10:24 2018

The incident file in relation to the cutting of Baka trees by Grace Road Group in Navua last month, has been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for consideration of legal proceedings.

Permanent Secretary for Environment Joshua Wycliffe confirmed this stating that a legal course of action would be applied to such offences to ensure that fines and disciplinary measures are ordered by the Courts.

“As witnessed recently in other cases (environmental), the Courts here in Fiji have convicted and fined organisations for contravening the Environment Management Act (2005),” Mr Wycliffe said.

“Such incidences do require stern action and that is exactly what the Ministry of Waterways and Environment is doing.”

The matter was first addressed by Mr Wycliffe after he was informed of the news on Saturday morning August 25, 2018.

“We looked into it and local authorities including Police attended to the matter and issued them (Grace Road Group) with a summons to meet with the Ministry,” he said.

“A prohibition notice was issued to them and an investigation into the tree cutting was also initiated.

“This matter is now being forwarded to the DPP for legal proceedings.”

Mr Wycliffe added that the Ministry was now working on various initiatives to ensure accessibility to members of the public in reporting similar cases to the authorities concerned.

An Environment Emergency Hotline is being initiated by the Ministry of Waterways and Environment to look into cases similar to that of the Baka tree incident.

Mr Wycliffe said the initiative was currently being looked into and would be accessible after hours and weekends also.

“We are only in the initial stages of trying to establish it so once it is ready we will launch it and people can then start calling the number and reporting any offences that we are immediately able to stop.”

“We would like people to tell us rather than us finding out through social media, we would like to hear it first hand when we provide people with the hotline.”

“We are hoping to do that in the next two to three weeks.”

He mentioned that they were also trying to raise awareness amongst
businesses regarding environment related issues.

“We urge businesses around the country to consult the Ministry of Waterways and Environment before they cut trees or to speak to us so, that way we will be able to guide them on what to do and what not to do.”

He said if businesses opted not to consult with the
ministry before undertaking any project then they were legally liable and legal measures would be taken.
Edited by Losirene Lacanivalu


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