Excavator crushes farmer to death

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 July, 2011, 12:00am


A villager was crushed to death by an excavator during a dispute between farmers and a company that was pushing ahead with a construction project on their land in Gan county, Jiangxi province , local media reported yesterday.

Xie Shaochun from Luokeng village in Maodian township was attempting to stop the machine from preparing a site for a mould factory on Monday, the Gannan Daily reported. Villagers had refused to sell the land.

Police detained the 'direct assailant' and the government had agreed to 'pay enough compensation' to Xie's family, the report said. It did not identify the 'direct assailant', but said the county's party secretary had apologised for the death.

As illegal land requisitions continue despite closer supervision by the central government, conflicts between local governments and farmers driven off their land are taking a new, bloody turn.

In a separate case, a district government chief in Handan , Hebei province, died of knife wounds in his office on Sunday, The Beijing News reported yesterday, citing local police. He was suspected to have been murdered over land-requisition disputes, although police said he had committed suicide while suffering from depression.

Zhang Haizhong, head of the Hanshan district government, had been busy with demolition work recently, according to the government's website. A report posted on the website on June 29 said he had been arranging demolition work in several areas of the district every afternoon since June 24. '[We should] seek power and wisdom from wherever possible, take whatever possible measures to push forward the work of demolition and land requisition,' he was quoted as saying.

In the first six month of the year, more than 18,500 hectares of land was found to have been misused, the Ministry of Land and Resources said yesterday. A third of the land involved was former farmland. More than 480 people were disciplined and 36 others faced criminal charges.

Li Jianqin , head of the ministry's law enforcement department, said rampant land grabs were mostly prompted by local governments' efforts to attract business investment and build infrastructure, including roads, airports and irrigation systems.

However, he said a new trend had emerged in which governments lease land from farmers instead of requisitioning it.

'During the process of urbanisation, farmers have expected more from their land. They have this feeling that it is 'better to grow houses than crops',' Li said. 'Therefore, in many places, farmland has been used for non-agricultural purposes, such as developing real estate, building golf courses and industrial parks.'