Demolition dispute in Guangzhou
Guangzhou municipal government's decision to bulldoze a total of 165 villas to give way for construction of a key project in the Guangdong provincial capital has antagonized most of the legal property owners involved.
The villa owners in turn claim to have filed a lawsuit against the local government and asked for the withdrawal of its decision to demolish the properties.
The villa owners, apparently attempting to uphold the newly amended Constitution in defence of their rights, cited the Constitution as now stipulating that the legal properties of individuals should be protected.
But an official from the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court said the court has not received any notice of the lawsuit yet and refused to comment on the possible case.
The conflict between the villa owners and the government came after the city's bureaux for land, resources and housing management jointly issued a notice last August to require the villa owners to move away and have their villas demolished to make way for construction of Guangzhou University City on Xiaoguwei Island in the city's Panyu District.
According to an official from the Guangzhou Municipal Bureau of Land and Resources, the government has every right to take back the land use rights of property owners for construction of key State and government projects, because land is owned by the State.
The official, who refused to be named, said the government has decided to compensate the villa owners but failed to satisfy them.
Most of them refused to move into the apartments provided by the government in busy downtown areas, the official told China Daily Wednesday.
Many villa owners are painters, professors and artists who preferred to live in the city's outskirts. The villa owners include overseas Chinese and compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
The official said his bureau would continue to negotiate with the villa owners and try to reach an agreement in the coming days.
But the villas will have to be bulldozed because the Guangzhou University City is a key project in Guangzhou, the official said.
Meng Qi, director of the Construction Headquarters for Guangzhou University City, said the villa area would become a green area for the project, which covers more than 43.3 square kilometres.
A highway will also be built to link the university project to the city's highway network after the villas have been bulldozed, Meng said.
Meng said that more than 5 billion yuan (US$602.41 million) will be invested this year to build the project, which will be completed before the end of August.
The university city also includes banks, post offices, a supermarket, hospitals, restaurants, bookstores and other supplementary facilities.
Meng said the project, which has attracted major universities and colleges in Guangzhou, would start enrolling new students in the coming new school term that usually begins on September 1.
And more than 100,000 university students will study in the new university city this year.
The university city will accommodate more than 15 per cent of its new university students in the new school term.
Covering a total area of more than 17.33 hectares, the 165 villas are located in southern area of Xiaoguwei Island in the Pearl River.
Most of the villas, which were built in the mid-1990s, lie along the river bank. The villas have been known as a "village of art'' owing to the many painters and artists who have settled down there.