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Angry farmers protest over housing plan

ANDRY farmers are demonstrating against a local village government in central China's Henan Province over a home relocation plan.

The farmers describe the residential project as window dressing as well as a huge economic loss for them, the China Comment magazine reported.

The latest protest was on May 25, when at least 500 farmers in Dongyang Village of Xinxiang City gathered in front of the village committee office and blocked the entrance.

The villagers held a banner saying "Occupying arable land for housing is illegal!"

Police were sent to disperse the crowd but there was no trouble, villager Jin Zhongfeng told the magazine.

The local government plans to knock down some private houses for new housing for the villagers, Wang Zhenhai, Party secretary of Guanti Town told the magazine.

The government will build residential quarters on part of the land and make the rest a commercial development, he said. Villagers can buy new homes in the residential quarters.

The demolition will provide another 27 hectares of land, he said. So far more than 10 houses have been pulled down, he said.

Wang said the plan aimed to improve local living conditions as most of the villagers' houses were dilapidated.

He said most villagers had agreed to the plan and the protesters were a few misled older farmers who did not understand the plan.

But the villagers dismissed Wang's statement.

Most villagers disagreed with the plan, and 480 of the village's 502 households had signed a petition against the relocation.

The demolition of the houses meant a huge loss for many villagers.

Villager Zhao Jinglu said he had spent 160,000 yuan building his three-story house in 2007. Most of the houses in the village were built within the past three years, he said.

The government had earmarked 10 million yuan to improve local infrastructure, he added.


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