State rejects 32pc of land-use applications

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2007, 12:00am

Beijing has increased efforts to save the dwindling supply of arable land by rejecting almost 32 per cent of land-use applications this year.

The Ministry of Land and Resources, which just completed appraising land-use applications from 47 cities this year, had reduced by 31.81 per cent the total area applied for, Xinhua reported.

The ministry did not elaborate on the rejections except to say that 24.56 per cent of land area for construction had been reduced.

It also said 27 per cent more in farming or arable land were saved compared with the level last year and mainly unoccupied land was granted construction usage.

Of the land with usage approved, almost 40 per cent was for residential properties with a focus on budget or low-income housing.

An unidentified official from the ministry said rejecting some land applications would serve to control land supply at the national level and ensuring a sufficient amount of arable land.

As of October last year, the mainland had 1.23 million square kilometres of land suitable for crops, just 20,000 sq km more than the minimum the government deemed necessary to feed the huge population.

Beijing has been introducing schemes, including stricter control of land approval and halting afforestation on farm land, to save the limited supply of arable land from rapid industrialisation and urbanisation.

The ministry also said it had uncovered 32,000 more cases of land grabs during the recent crackdown.

This was in addition to 130,000 cases of land grabs last year, an increase of 17.3 per cent from 2005, according to previously released government figures.

The amount of land unlawfully seized from its rightful owners or used without approval totalled 233,000 hectares, the ministry's website said.

It said about 20 per cent of the land found to be illegally seized in the latest crackdown was used to build industrial parks.

The ministry uncovered the land grabs in a continuing 100-day operation. It urged all provinces to penalise culprits by December 25.

Receding farm land

The remaining area of arable land in the mainland as of October, in sq km: 1.23m