Deadline in threat to block traffic

Villagers whose homes will be demolished to make way for towns tell government to respond to compensation demands by end of March

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 February, 2014, 3:17am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 February, 2014, 3:17am

The government faces a new and more intense wave of protests against its plan for two new towns in the northeast New Territories, with villagers threatening to block traffic and an activist group seeking to cause delays at Town Planning Board meetings.

The warnings of action came yesterday, a day before the deadline for public submissions to the board on plans for the Kwu Tung North and Fanling North new development areas.

A series of government submissions to the Legislative Council - set to culminate in Finance Committee approval in May for HK$342.6 million of advance work - is due to start on Tuesday.

Tsang Kar-sun, representative of Kwu Tung South Village, which is slated for demolition under the government's plan, said residents had decided on civil disobedience if there was not a satisfactory written response by the end of next month to their demands for more compensation.

"If there is no proper reply by the end of March, we will lie on a highway or in a tunnel in order to block traffic," said Tsang, who knelt in front of Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in an emotional appeal when handing her a petition at a Heung Yee Kuk event two weeks ago.

An alliance of activist groups meanwhile has filed more than 10,000 submissions to the board opposing the plan, which covers 612 hectares of land and includes the construction of some 60,000 flats to house 176,900 people.

In a tactic it hopes will cause delays, the League of Fanling North Villages and Residents has called for opponents to speak at meetings of the board when it hears representations.

"We note that many citizens who have signed may not have time to speak at the meetings in person and we urge them to authorise villagers to use their speaking time," alliance member Au Hei-man said.

The board has yet to set dates for the meetings.

The government last year pledged to pay HK$600,000 cash compensation to each eligible family living in the squatter areas affected by the plan.

But Kwu Tung South residents say it should offer them HK$2 million or provide land in their neighbourhood for new houses.

Tsang said Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat had agreed to visit his village next month and it was also seeking support from political groups.

A spokeswoman for the Development Bureau said it had been communicating with affected residents and would follow up on the matter.

The funding plan for advance works will be put to the Legco development panel on Tuesday.

The Development Bureau aims to seek the public works subcommittee's approval next month and the Finance Committee's final nod in May.

The plan has already sparked opposition from activists and protests by villagers who do not want to move or want more compensation.