Move will improve land management
( 2003-08-02 10:33) (China Daily)
Applications for establishing or extending development zones have been suspended indefinitely to allow clean-up of malpractice in land transfer and management and to enhance land protection.
The decision was released at a teleconference organized by the State Council on Thursday.
A thorough check is to be kicked off in development zones that have already been approved, and land acquired without following required procedures must be returned and oversized zones must be cut back in size.
In a message sent to the meeting, Premier Wen Jiabao called for the adoption of the "strictest possible" measures in land management.
The stern warning from the central government and the overhaul of the land market are badly needed to regulate the problem-laden sector.
Some local governments, in disregard of practical realities, have been zealous in setting up and expanding the scale of development zones, which in their view, are a mark of achievement.
Many development zones have been extended far beyond what is needed. As a result, large areas of land are left idle.
Statistics from the Ministry of Land and Resources indicate that among the 900 development zones at provincial level or above, only 13.51 per cent of the land involved has been developed so far.
Permissive management in land use leaves room for power to be traded for money, opening a hotbed ripe for corruption.
Worse, the aggressive occupation of land has seriously hurt the interest of farmers.
In some cases, land was taken against farmers' will, and farmers have frequently not been properly compensated.
For many farmers, cultivated land is their main, if not only, lifeline. Lavish occupation of cultivated land sows the seeds of instability in society.
The situation is rendered even more disturbing considering that the per capita area of cultivated land in China is less than half of the world average, and with less than 10 per cent of the world's cultivated land, the country is feeding more than one-fifth of the world's population.
Every inch of land is precious, so we must make the best possible use of it.
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