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Farmer battles govt for wood

By Huang Zhiling (China Daily)

08:54, July 12, 2012

A man stares at a 34-meter-long carbonized wood found by local farmer Wu Gaoliang in Maliu village, Southwest China's Sichuan province, in April. [Photo/ China News Service]

Wu Gaoliang, a truck driver in Pengzhou, Sichuan province, has been very busy since February.

Instead of transporting vegetables to different parts of the country, the 36-year-old farmer in Maliu village is preoccupied with consulting lawyers and checking articles of law.

"All I think is how to win back the carbonized wood I found earlier this year," said Wu at his home in the mountainous village about 1,500 meters above sea level.

Carbonized wood is wood that has hardened from being long buried in earth. With a value of more than 10,000 yuan ($1,590) per cubic meter, the wood he found has become the focus of an ownership battle between Wu and his town.

While taking a stroll with a friend on Feb 1, Wu found a small section of carbonized wood that was exposed in the field he contracts from the village, and he rented an excavator to dig it up.

"But before the wood was lifted from the field, two police officers from Tongji town (which has Maliu village under its administration) asked me to stop," Wu said.

In the ensuing days, leading officials from the town tried to persuade Wu to hand over the wood.

"They told me it belonged to the State, and they would give me 70,000 yuan as a reward for discovering the wood," Wu said.

Fearing a brawl for trying to stop Wu, the town sent police, urban-management personnel and an ambulance to the site.

Under mounting pressure, Wu had to give up.

And on Feb 20, seven trunks of carbonized wood were taken from the field, with the largest piece weighing 60 metric tons and measuring 34 meters long. For now, the carbonized wood sit stockpiled in a bus station.

"The town took away the wood on the basis of the General Principles of the Civil Law of the People's Republic of China," said Guo Kunlong, chief of the town.

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