Threats over land deal alleged

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 January, 2008, 12:00am

A city government in Jiangxi province forced civil servants and employees working in state-owned enterprises to persuade relatives to give up their homes for a land acquisition deal under threat of punishment, residents and mainland media said yesterday.

Some cadres and employees of state-owned units in Fengcheng complained that they were suspended from duty and threatened with loss of wages after they failed to persuade relatives to sign over their rights to land before a deadline, the Beijing-based China Youth Daily reported.

The report said the municipal government demanded that cadres sign agreements and even issued notices urging them to meet the city's order.

One of the householders, who refused to be named, said the urban- renewal plan involved more than 500 families and more than 13.4 hectares in five residential areas - one in the countryside and four downtown.

'Four commercial property projects will be built in the downtown areas, while the countryside project is just an infrastructure item,' the householder said.

He said many of the residents were civil servants and employees of state-owned enterprises.

One notice issued to a cadre from the municipal transport bureau said he would face punishment if he failed to persuade his father to make way for the urban-renewal project, the China Youth Daily said.

The report said the Fengcheng government stopped issuing the notices when it realised some families were using the documents as evidence to back up their complaints to higher authorities.

The resident said city authorities subsequently sent officials undercover as reporters to 'interview' petitioners and nail-householders before taking away all their evidence, including the notice.

He said some of the buildings to be demolished were just five years old, and the compensation offered by the city government was a third of the market price. Many public servants hesitated about lobbying their relatives, with only 14.5 per cent of householders signing agreements before the deadline.

'But many householders were forced to move out because water, power and gas supplies have been cut off since last month,' he said.

Some residents also said they signed agreements with the developer, but the compensation was paid by the municipal government using cheques signed by the deputy mayor.

To meet an urban renewal schedule, authorities also warned poor families living in affected property to co-operate or risk losing their social-security payments, the China Youth Daily reported.