Hundreds of households living near the mainland border area may receive total compensation of more than HK$200 million over the construction of a new cross-border checkpoint - if lawmakers approve the payout.
An estimated 344 households are covered under the Development Bureau's proposal to grant special ex-gratia allowances to villagers displaced by the facility, which will link Heung Yuen Wai in Ta Kwu Ling with Liantang in Shenzhen.
The bureau will seek funding approval of HK$211 million from Legco's finance committee next month, in an attempt to end villagers' opposition to the project, work on which is due to be completed in 2018.
Each eligible household would get a cash allowance of HK$600,000 and a relocation allowance of HK$3,000 to HK$12,000, the bureau proposed in a paper submitted to the Legco development panel yesterday.
The cash allowance has been increased, as villagers were unsatisfied with the original proposal to pay HK$250,000, with which they said it would be difficult to buy land elsewhere and build a house.
The construction of the checkpoint and its connecting road will affect residents of the century-old Chuk Yuen village and some squatters nearby. Indigenous and non-indigenous villagers have lived in the area for at least 30 years.
The bureau pledged last year to reserve land half a kilometre away from Chuk Yuen to allow indigenous villagers to apply to build standard three-storey small houses.
Non-indigenous villagers can buy agricultural land near the reserved site and apply to construct a 'cotton house' - two storeys of 500 square feet per floor.
Residents would be allowed to pay the land premium in instalments, or a nominal premium of HK$1,000 if they did not intend to sell the house later on, the bureau proposed.
The measure would also cover households and squatters south of Chuk Yuen, it said.
To be eligible, households must be living in the affected houses on the date of an upcoming survey. Squatters should have been registered in a 1982 domestic squatter survey.
Chuk Yuen representative Kenny Yiu Sun-choi welcomed the revised cash allowance, which he said rose from HK$250,000 at the start of talks with the government.
But Yiu said non-indigenous villagers faced an uncertain fate. 'Owners of agricultural land nearby know some villagers are desperate for land to build houses. They have threatened not to sell their land and have significantly increased the per-foot price,' he said.
Yiu said the government resumed land last year at about HK$250 per square foot, but land owners had recently raised the rate to HK$500. 'We hope the government will resume the land and then we will buy it from the government.' He said non-indigenous residents living outside the village were part of it as they had lived there for almost 30 years and had the right to elect village representatives.