The State Council yesterday disciplined two senior government officials of Central China's Henan Province for illegally authorizing the use of land.
In a meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday, the State Council decided to circulate a notice of criticism to the Henan provincial government, and ordered it to submit a self-criticism for its dereliction in carrying out the national land policy.
Li Xinmin, a member of the Henan Provincial Standing Committee of the Communist Party, and Wang Wenchao, Party secretary of Zhengzhou, capital of Henan, were given severe disciplinary penalties.
The Zhengzhou municipal government and related departments illegally expropriated 14,877 mu (1,860 hectares) of land for the construction of an education park in the city's Longzihu District from 2003 to 2006, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Despite an order from the Ministry of Land and Resources in 2005 to redress its actions, the Zhengzhou municipal government expanded the project, the report said.
"This is a large case that severely violated the overall land use plan and illegally granted approval for huge land expropriation," said the report.
The Henan provincial Ggovernment failed to carry out the national policy to rectify the land market order and failed to keep a tight control on land supply, it said.
"Related leaders either explicitly instructed or acquiesced to illegal land expropriation," it said.
The State Council stressed that officials of all levels should draw a lesson from the illegal land expropriation case.
"Facing the severe situation of a sharp decrease of arable land and an ever-increasing population, one must bear in mind a strong sense of suffering and danger," the report said.
The State Council ordered strengthened supervision and established a reporting system for officials to curb rampant land expropriation.
The criticism came shortly after the State Council released a circulation to strengthen land management earlier this month. The criticism is considered a warning for local officials not to illegally expropriate land in a reckless pursuit of investment.
In August, the State Council criticized three provincial officials in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, including Chairman Yang Jing and two deputies, for ignoring orders from Beijing to stop construction of a power plant, which was being built on illegally expropriated land.
Six were killed and another eight injured during an accident as workers raced to finish the project.
Relentless construction demand was said to be the main reason for the drastic decline in the country's arable land. A report from the Ministry of Land and Resources said that the country has lost 120 million mu (15 million hectares) of arable land to either land deterioration or construction from 1995 to 2005.
Source: China Daily