Panyu farmers in path of train join battle against eviction

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 July, 2009, 12:00am

The 500 residents of Choi Yuen Tsuen in the northern New Territories are not alone in their battle against removal to make way for the new express rail link.

Across the border in Panyu, near Guangzhou, seven farmers in Weichong village have filed a lawsuit against the village government over an eviction order for them to make way for support facilities of the express link.

'They will be building a moat, surrounding the railway station. Our land will become part of the river bank. But I'm not sure whether it is true, they haven't shown us any planning outline as the law requires,' 60-year-old Pang Zhaohong said. 'They gave us an order, and that's it. No one ever came to talk to us, not to mention discussing our compensation.'

Mr Pang has rented the same piece of land to grow fruit, herbs and trees for 16 years. Officials issued him with a removal order in late March, with a deadline to leave the 22-hectare plot before June 1. It said he would be compensated for young plants.

Outraged also by what he regards as unfair compensation, he has refused to move. 'I can't leave this place, even for one minute. I'm afraid they will come to take away all my belongings if they find out I'm not here, guarding my land. So over the past few months, my family and friends come to see me, I have never gone out to meet anyone,' he said.

Six other villagers are refusing to leave until they receive fair payouts.

'There are more than 100 families in this village, but they are all afraid, so only seven people have dared to stay on,' Mr Pang said. 'At least four villages in this area have farmland that will be bulldozed for the railway station's development. But we don't know if any of them are doing the same as us.'