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Hebei demolishes illegal villas on mountainside

By Zhang Yu in Shijiazhuang | China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-20 08:54
Some buildings in Shijiazhuang, North China's Hebei province. [Photo/China Real Estate Business]

The government of Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, is tearing down illegal buildings on a mountain slope, after media reports disclosed problems with an unapproved villa project.

Covering an area of about 1.2 million square meters and including more than 700 villas and supporting facilities, the project had been built and villas sold without authorization, according to a report by China Real Estate Business on Monday.

The Shijiazhuang government had sent a team to investigate, Hebei Daily reported, and as of Tuesday afternoon, 10 of 24 illegal buildings covering 12,667 square meters had been demolished. The team will continue to remove illegal structures while the investigation moves forward.

The project is on the slopes of Fenglong Mountain in Luquan district in southwestern Shijiazhuang.

Making use of the mountain's natural resources as a selling point to attract buyers, the project's developer built the villas at the cost of destroying the mountain and its forest, the report by China Real Estate Business said.

The developer, Shijiazhuang Lihao Real Estate Development Co, got neither permission to build nor to sell, according to the report, quoting an employee with the local bureau of housing and urban-rural development in Luquan.

In 2017, the developer was fined about 6.24 million yuan ($920,000) for illegally constructing 109 residential buildings without permission. But the fine has not yet been paid, the report said.

An employee of the developer told China Real Estate Business that "the government had given us a green light".

After the matter was reported on Monday, Wang Dongfeng, Hebei's Party secretary, demanded an immediate and thorough investigation into the unapproved construction and punishment for the people involved in violating laws and regulations.

The Shijiazhuang government sent the investigative team to Luquan district on Monday night, with its own Party secretary and mayor leading the group.

Video reports by the news website Btime said the villa area had been sealed off by local authorities.

"Some corrupt officials might have taken bribes to help the developer obtain the land, and then turned a blind eye to illegal construction and selling," said Xing Shitian, a project manager at a construction company in Shijiazhuang, who is not involved in the matter.

Measures have been taken in some parts of the country to stop illegal construction of buildings and prevent destruction of the environment.

Last year, more than 1,000 illegal villas were demolished or confiscated at the foot of the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi province, and many officials involved were held accountable for either corruption or failing to respond to the situation.

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