Govt takes farmland illegally, report says

09:02, November 06, 2009      

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GUANGZHOU: A township government in the southern province of Guangdong has illegally claimed a large area of farmland for real estate development, local media reported yesterday.

Villagers in Li'an village of Tangtang township in Fogang county launched a protest against a local real estate developer when it began construction of the project last month, according to Guangzhou-based Nanfang Rural News.

The township government had allegedly requisitioned up to 260 hectares of farmland from local villagers four years ago and construction started in August this year.

"But we have never seen the written agreement of the land requisition," said Huang Yaniu, a local villager.

Villagers also haven't received compensation for the requisition, Huang said.

Huang was one of four village representatives who signed the agreement with the township four years ago.

Local government officials denied the villagers' request to return one of the copies after it was stamped, Huang said.

"The land requisition process was legal since villagers signed an agreement, officially, with the government," said Ouyang Delong, an official with the township government.

However, no data was included in two of the three agreement copies, according to an investigation by the Nanfang Rural News.

"There must be some 'unusual reasons' behind the blank agreement documents," Huang said.

Qiu Yue, deputy director with the Fogang county bureau of land resources, said the land requisition in Tangtang township was not recorded by the county government.

"We have not received any reports of the land requisition from the township government. Only county-level authorities have the right to requisition land for the public interest," Qiu told China Daily yesterday.

The Guangdong land resource authority issued a new compensation rule for land requisition in 2006, with the maximum price reaching more than one million yuan ($146,000) per hectare. The authority said land projects would not be approved if they fail to meet the compensation rules.

However, Guangdong has seen a rising number of disputes between land users, government authorities and real estate developers in recent years as the southern province has undergone quick urban expansion.

Local legislators attributed the increasing land disputes to inadequate regulation and ineffective enforcement of the new compensation rules.

"We need to know how lands are developed for 'public interest' under the land development law," said Wang Jiming, a deputy to the provincial people's congress.

Wang also urged the government to strengthen inspections and introduce stricter regulations for approving projects to avoid further disputes and protect land users' interests.

Source:China Daily
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