Landowning unit rejects lease application

PLANS by the Melino iTaukei Foundation Trust to secure a lease with the Vanuavou landowning unit in Vaturova, Cakaudrove, has been rejected by the landowning unit.

Members of the landowning unit told iTaukei Land Trust Board officials during their consultation on Tuesday afternoon that the intentions and plans of the trust were not clear to them.

Landowning unit members told trust representatives if they wanted to secure a lease on their land, then they needed to clarify their objectives.

Mataqali trustee Vilise Semesa claimed during the consultation that the group held consultations in the village without their knowledge.

Mr Semesa claimed all they knew was the group wanted to secure 600 acres of land for the conservation of trees.

“We had offered them a certain land that is reserved by the mataqali for a lease of 35 years, but they rejected the offer,” he claimed.

“Their move to secure a 99-year lease is quite suspicious because they would want it to secure a loan. Six hundred acres of land is a lot and the landowning unit depends on this land for their own sustenance.”

The trust’s representative, Siteri Gonelevu, told the landowning unit they were only interested in conserving trees, adding they could still farm the land.

Ms Gonelevu said the trust was just a handling agency of the funds that would be given from the Green Bank to maintain the project.

She said the trust was a conservation group, adding they would return to the village to carry out an awareness program on their role.

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