NEWS

Mataqali Backs Government On New Site For Indian Mission Near Thurston Gardens

Mr Ratulevu claimed that on February 8, one politician went to Suvavou Village canvassing for support to oppose the Indian move.
22 Feb 2019 10:00
Mataqali Backs Government On New Site For Indian Mission Near Thurston Gardens
Part of the area which is earmarked for the construction of the Indian High Comission. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Two groups, who claim to be the original traditional Suva landowners, say they support the construction of the Indian High Commission at an idle car park space near Thurston Gardens. They are members of Mataqali Vatuwaqa and Mataqali Tuirara.

“The current proposed site is known as Nawela,” landowners’ spokesperson Watisoni Ratulevu said.

Mr Ratulevu accused Opposition politicians of politicising the issue.

He claimed that some politicians made promises that land in Suva would be returned to the Suvavou people if they won the election last year.

Many landowners were misled and voted against FijiFirst. But no appeal was made when the Suvavou people lost their case staking their claim in court in 2010.

Mr Ratulevu claimed that on February 8, one politician went to Suvavou Village canvassing for support to oppose the Indian move.

He told the landowners that he needed the numbers in Parliament. If the numbers were high it would allow him to open a case in court to have a judicial decision.
It could also trigger related Suva land issues.

Mr Ratulevu said there were similar cases that had proceeded in the past and the United States Embassy at Tamavua was a good example.

He said the real landowners, the Mataqali Tuirara, were not consulted by previous governments and clan leader Kaminieli Roqo Rokotakala confirmed it.

Mr Rokotakala said he was not also told about the compensation.

“However, the current Government has at least set a process for stakeholders to be consulted and submit an expression of interest,” Mr Ratulevu said.

“As customary owner of the subject area we support the Government’s initiative to utilise the area accordingly.

This is, provided the Government relook at the plight of the real Suva people, identify them and assert their traditional boundaries according to their cultural and traditional rights to land, sea and ultimately the recognition as recommended by the current Government to set up Land and Fisheries tribunal for TLTB and Lands Department.

He said he was not also told about the compensation.

Mr Ratulevu said he was also aware that an opposing group of landowners had staked its claim on the land in question.

He said they had sent a copy of their submission to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday, calling on Government to settle this issue about who were the rightful traditional owners once and for all.

Edited by Susana Tuilau

Feedback: maikab@fijsun.com.fj



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