4 Sep 2002

Fiji leader calls for more to be done to prevent evictions

7:18 am on 4 September 2002

The general-secretary of the Fiji Cane Growers Association is calling for Indian leaders to do more to stop the forced eviction of cane farmers after their leases have expired.

Bala Dass says there needs to be a roundtable dialogue between the government, the Native Lands Trust Board, Indian leaders and cane farmers to resolve the land issue.

Mr Dass was speaking out after a family in Lautoka was forced off their land by knife-wielding indigenous Fijian villagers.

"Nobody's talking to nobody, the Indian leaders are doing little to solve this problem, the government is doing very little to solve the land problem, the native lands trust board is basically saying they are there to safeguard the interest of landowners. I don't know what will happen to the Indian tenants in this country"

The farmers were living on state land which was transferred to indigenous owners by the government this year.

Mr Dass says sugar production has declined from 4 million to 3 million tonnes and the industry will collapse completely unless steps are taken to resolve the lease problem.