China to clamp down on illegal development of farmland

Updated: 2008-01-08 23:29

BEIJING -- China's State Council issued a circular on Tuesday to further clamp down on the illegal development of farmland, as part of its efforts to improve land use efficiency.

"Any construction project that needs to occupy farmland or idle land in rural areas will need official approval," said the circular.

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The building of farmers' houses, enterprises and public facilities in rural areas shall comply with the overall planning of local towns and villages and be listed in their annual land use plan, it said.

"Construction projects that will take up arable land collectively owned by villages and farmers must apply for the certificate allowing the transformation of farmland for other purposes," it said.

Without the certificate, the projects shall also be denied other relevant permits by the construction, city planning, real estate management as well as land and resources departments, it said.

"No water, power and gas shall be provided for these projects, and no financial institutions shall be permitted to offer them loans," it said.

Urban dwellers are banned from buying residential land or houses from farmers, nor are they allowed to buy apartments developed in rural areas by local authorities in violation of the state regulations, it stressed.

Village committees have been found to sell local land furtively to property developers and issue informal property ownership certificates to house buyers.

Soaring house prices in large cities have driven many urbanites to buy cheap houses in rural outskirts, where many real estate projects are built without approval from the local land watchdog.

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