14 Apr 2011

Minister says government is sympathetic to landowners in PNG

7:07 pm on 14 April 2011

The Papua New Guinea Minister for Lands says his government is sympathetic to the rights of landowners who have had to make way for a multi-billion dollar natural gas project.

Lawyers acting for the landowners, who believe their land has been taken from them illegally, have sent letters to the developer urging consultation with a view to drafting a new agreement.

The Minister for Lands, Lucas Dekena, says the Land Act allows acquisition of land in special circumstances of national importance and believes the LNG project is one such case.

He says landowners still have a say.

"It does not mean it takes away the rights of the landowners, it just makes the land available but the landowners are also engaged in all the different benefits and spin-offs that come out of the project."

But landowners say they haven't received any of the benefits promised and are challenging the ownership of the gas fields.