16 cases of illegal land use revealed

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 September, 2007, 12:00am

The Ministry of Land and Resources yesterday made public 16 cases of illegal land use but has said only officials in four cases have been referred to courts for criminal investigation.

The other cases were being dealt with under the Communist Party's disciplinary procedures or the government's administrative procedures, China News Service reported.

At a press conference yesterday, Zhang Xinbao, head of the ministry's law enforcement department, said investigators have found at least 16 violations this year and these cases included a number of luxury property projects, from villas to golf courses.

Mr Zhang said 43 officials were subjected to disciplinary punishments by the Communist Party and government. He did not identify the officials or disclose their ranks.

On Wednesday, Xinhua also quoted Mr Zhang's ministry saying almost a quarter of new land acquisitions in cities were illegal.

Most violations, he said, covered local governments taking over land from farmers and urban residents without following proper procedures, substituting land premium with rents and altering the use of land without seeking approval from superior departments.

A company in Luoyang City, Henan province, was accused of obtaining land from the local government to build a golf course by paying rent instead of the land's premium. In Yingde City , Guangdong, a hot spring resort obtained land through fraudulent means, China News Service reported.

Mr Zhang said the area involved in the 16 cases investigated amounted to 7,193 mu (479.5 hectares).

China News Service said Mr Zhang's ministry was preparing to launch a three-month-long campaign to rectify the problem and promised it would make regular reports on results of its investigations.

Land experts have long said that local governments often collude with property developers in seizing farmers' land without paying them proper compensation.