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Farmers angry over land deal

FARMERS in Shaanxi Province are complaining that a county government is allowing villas to be built on land which they had to give up.

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 today.

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

According to the plans 1,460 villas will be built with prices varying from 5,000 yuan (US$732.33) to 12,000 yuan per square meter. Each villa will be between 200-300 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 lands 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.

Learning this, the villagers tried to disrupt the real estate development.

In June 2004, they clashed with the builders, resulting in dozens of injuries and damage to construction vehicles.

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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