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Farmers sue county for illegal land use
By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-08-30 06:12

117 rural families are suing the local county government in Northwest China's Gansu Province. The hearings open today, with the villagers claiming the demolition and construction on their land is illegal.

The farmers, who gathered in Longnan in Gansu Province yesterday, are asking the Longnan Intermediate People's Court to award them 25 million yuan (US$3 million) from Chengxian County government.

The suit also names the local land procurement and relocation office, charged by the government to do the demolition.

According to plaintiffs' lawyer Wang Dong, the county government issued a notice in September 2001 saying it would requisition the land in the county's Chengguan township in order to construct a sewage treatment plant.

In the following year, the procurement and relocation office pulled down the farmers' single story houses and constructed residential buildings.

"It's illegal because the land, covering about 21,300 square metres, was collectively owned by farmers," Wang said yesterday.

Chinese law states that land owned collectively by rural residents should be managed by a board elected by the residents. According to 1996 figures, 46 per cent of land in China falls into this category.

If the government has to use the land for the general public's welfare, then it needs to consult and compensate the farmers.
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