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Anger as villas built on land meant for park

FARMERS in Shaanxi Province are complaining that a county government is allowing villas to be built on land which they were forced to give up, supposedly for a park project.

About 400 villas have been completed on 2,300 mu (153 hectares) of land in Caotang Town, Huxian County of Shaanxi's capital Xi'an City, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.

The farmers said originally they were moved because the land was to become a park.

According to the plan, 1,460 villas will be built with prices varying from 5,000 yuan (US$732) to 12,000 yuan per square meter. Each villa will be between 200 and 300 square meters.

To make room for the project, the county and township governments started to acquire land from five villages in 2002, the Xinhua report said.

The governments wanted Wanjunzhai Village to move 500 meters west but the villagers refused.

The villagers were finally forced to move after the project developer cut their water and power supplies. The move resulted in the loss of farm land for the 460 villagers. The county and township governments also moved to make space for the project, villagers told Xinhua.

Officials had told villagers an Olympic-themed park would be built on the land, including eight sightseeing areas. They assured the villagers the 250-million-yuan park would help boost the local economy.

But the project became a commercial real estate deal in 2005 with the planned construction area boosted from 96,000 square meters to 430,000 square meters, villagers said.

What further angered the villagers was that the county government offered to halve the land acquisition fee by 7 million yuan. It also exempted the developer from having to pay compensation to the villagers because the company was in financial difficulties.

To help the developer, the government agreed the company only had to pay 20 percent of the halved land requisition fees to the villagers.


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