Villagers tell of river pollution

PRIME MINISTER Voreqe Bainimarama has ordered the Lands Department to carry out an environment impact assessment on a river gravel extraction business at Yaqara, Ra.

He issued the directive after listening to numerous complaints from villagers that the extraction activity caused a decline in the fish population.

Speaking at a talanoa session with Mr Bainimarama on Thursday, Nananu Village headman Noa Nasita said fish stocks in the river decreased drastically.

He said women were finding it difficult to find food for their families.

“The river is becoming shallow because of the amount of gravel that washes downstream and, as a result, our fish population has really gone down,” Mr Nasita said.

“From the time they started, we noticed the size of the river has become smaller.

“People are finding it more and more difficult to find food.”

He said they made a plea to Government last year.

“I wrote to every department I thought that could help us, but no assessments or visits have been made to our village.”

Upon hearing the concerns of the villagers, Mr Bainimarama directed the Lands Department and Mineral Resources Department conduct an environmental impact assessment and a fisheries assessment.

He said the company’s licence to extract gravel from the river should also be inspected.

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