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January 24, 2011

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Huge illegal building is demolished

A MASSIVE building illegally constructed in the city's Zhabei District was razed to the ground yesterday by a government demolition team.

The 13,500-square-meter structure, which was the base for a furniture company, was the largest on a city list of illegal buildings in the north of Shanghai.

The three-day demolition process, involving 150 workers equipped with heavy machinery, passed without incident, but has taken the district government almost a year to complete.

This included a dozen rounds of negotiations with the furniture company's management before they finally agreed to leave the site on Thursday, according to the city's urban management team.

The structure, built on Liuchang Road by a local company without legal authorization two decades ago, was obstructing a road expansion project. Urgent demolition was ordered last year.

Since the 1980s, the builder had leased the structure to the furniture company for an annual rent of around 100,000 yuan (US$15,180), said urban management team officials.

The builder agreed to the demolition last year, officials said. However, the furniture company management had refused to move out.

"Talks to persuade the tenant company took place over a dozen rounds. The district government offered help with relocation," said Liu Weiguang, an official with local urban management team, yesterday.

Some 4 million square meters of illegally built structures were destroyed last year in Shanghai, and the local government plans to demolish another three million square meters this year. These include housing, warehouses and businesses. Officials say they are unsafe and blocking public spaces.

Local authorities have not revealed whether they will compensate companies that built these structures.

On Friday, the State Council, China's Cabinet, introduced a regulation to put an end to forced demolitions without due legal process and fair compensation. This follows bitter, and sometimes deadly, property disputes.

The regulation targets disputes over house expropriation and demolition and strives to give equal consideration to both public interests and the rights of property owners, according to a statement issued by the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

No violence or coercion can be used to force homeowners to leave, the regulation said.


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