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Ministry stops land use approvals for cities
By Tang Min (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-11 10:43

More than 20 cities across the country, including Beijing, were prevented from designating new land for construction use after failing to submit land use reports.

The Ministry of Land and Resources suspended approving new applications to designate land for new construction projects in cities that failed to report their land use situation between 1999 and 2004 before the January 15 deadline, Wu Haiyang, vice-director of the Land Use Management Department of the Ministry of Land and Resources, said yesterday.

The ministry announced in a March 2 circular that 26 of 84 Chinese cities ordered to submit a report failed to meet the deadline.

The ministry had stipulated that cities that did not submit reports on time would not get new approvals to designate land for construction purposes.

Several of the cities in question have, since then, submitted their reports and were taken off the blacklist.

Wu said it takes just a few days to compile the statistics for the reports. He dismissed suggestions that the move might cause unsteadiness on the real estate markets.

However, some real estate developers believe the move signals the coming of stricter governmental monitoring.

Beijing has so far not yet submitted its report, but Wu refused to comment on the possible reasons.

The land-use report helps the ministry get a clearer idea of the land use status across the country and plan for next year.

Before adopting the reporting system last year, the ministry only assumed responsibility for endorsing specific amounts of cultivated land that were used for construction purposes.

After getting the green light from the ministry, local governments at municipal and county levels can pick developers through public bidding or negotiations.

The 1998 version of the Law on Land Management stipulates local governments have to report how they dispose of land intended for new construction.

Confronted with a continuous decrease in cultivated land, which was down to 123.5 million hectares by the end of last year from 130.1 million hectares of year 1996, the ministry decided to put stress on the reporting system while vowing to punish those cities that turn a deaf ear to it.

Local governments that submit fraudulent reports should expect even more severe punishments. The ministry is also using satellite remote sensing to help ensure the accuracy of the reports.

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