Is a National Environment Committee the Answer to Environmental Damage?

28 01 2011

The Formation of National Environment Committee by Environment Minister Hon. Benny Allan

By Sam Basil

The Environment Minister Hon. Benny Allan refused to entertain our pleas regarding the Watut River Pollution up until we took the matter to court.

The Minister responded last week by visiting the Hidden Valley Gold Mine Project Site and suggests a formation of a new committee to be called The National Environment Committee to be chaired by the Secretary for DEC.

Dieback as a result of waste from Hidden Valley Mine

History shows that any chairmanship by the current Secretary and Director of Environment has always been dysfunctional and deemed total failure. In fact, many policy requirements under the Environment Act 2000 are yet to be fulfilled under the current Secretary and Director’s leadership. Such has been the case with Environment Council, which in many cases, failed to live up to the expectations.

The current Secretary and Director of Environment has no professional technical expertise in environmental science as he is an anthropologist (social scientist) and always relied on second opinions without having his first opinion on any environmental issues. If this committee is formed, then it should more independent, and chaired by an independent person outside DEC, so that DEC’s performance can also be under microscope. There are very highly qualified environmental scientists in the country who can chair the committee than the current head of DEC.

Furthermore, the funding for Mine Monitoring under PIP has been scrapped off in the 2011 budget, citing lack of capacity at DEC. So how effective will DEC be in this regard.

It is about time now that the current head of DEC (is) replaced because he has been holding the position since 1998, and has personalised many issues for both personal and political gains.

As for the Minister we can’t do much because politicians always compromise themselves for whatever reasons we all can guess.

I need good Papua New Guineans to debate this issue so we can learn from each other and welcome media to quote my statement above if they wish to.

Happy New Year to all and please participate in this issue I need to pick your minds on this one….

Hon Sam Basil MP

~ero~

Will this committee address pollution issues brought about by this mine?

Why is it being formed now and not before?

Questions, questions and questions…

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