15 Mar 2006

Fiji government told it needs tough laws to protect heritage sites

4:34 pm on 15 March 2006

A spokesperson for the traditional Fiji landowners involved in a dispute over the excavation of sand from dunes at Sigatoka, says the government must create strong laws to protect heritage sites.

Kalevete Balibasaga says that the dunes are a sacred site covering the remains of people drowned by a tsunami many years ago.

He says it was believed to be a heritage site but the government allowed two families to start excavating the sand.

Mr Balibasaga says the government has to put in place effective laws and implement them.

He says it has to come to terms with conservation and development.

"You can't have both in one hand. You have got to find between the objectives of development and conservation. When you have a conservation area it is supposed to be a conservation area. That's got to be clearly stipulated and the government should be the one to pay homage to it. You cannot put another right over it, excavate it, when it is supposed to be a protected area. ."