Applications by rural residents to build villas will be given preference if they help officers clear car dumps or transport containers from their paddy fields. The move is aimed at encouraging them to help restore the 500 hectares of rustic fields and fish ponds that have become dumping grounds for wrecked cars, and shipping and road haulage containers. Farmers have feared they would lose money if they could not convert their land to other uses but were forced to leave it idle while applying to build villas. Under current housing policy, each indigenous man living in the New Territories is entitled to build a three-storey villa. The Lands Department faces a backlog of some 13,000 applications, and some villagers complain it may take 10 years for their applications to be screened. A taskforce charged with restoring the New Territories' rural charm has offered to help farmers jump the queue if they can help evict those who operate car dumps on rural land. The principal land control officer, Frank Au Kam-pang, said: 'We can ask the land offices to process the applications of co-operative farmers. 'It can shorten the waiting time by at least several years. We believe they will be more than happy to evict the operators if they know they can soon build houses on the land.' For those not applying to build houses, the taskforce will consider rezoning the land to domestic use as an incentive for farmers to clean up the land. At the moment, the taskforce is cleaning up 24 hectares of environmentally blighted land in Sek Kong, Pat Heung and Yuen Long, and is expected to complete the task before the handover. But Heung Yee Kuk leader and Fanling Rural Committee chairman Mr Tang Kwok-yung condemned the proposal as an excuse by lazy officers. 'A civil servant is paid to do his job efficiently. Now he cannot do the job properly but offers to help people jump the queue. Isn't it ridiculous?' Governor Chris Patten ordered the massive clean-up after widespread flooding in the New Territories ruined crops and fish worth $800 million during a typhoon four years ago.