Officials will be held accountable if land requisition becomes ugly
BEIJING - The State Council has issued an urgent notice to governments at all levels urging them to set up and implement new compensation standards for land requisition before July.
The notice, which follows a string of violence triggered by forced home demolitions, requires local governments to pay heed to "reasonable" requirements of people whose homes are to be pulled down, the Xinhua News Agency's Outlook magazine reported on Monday.
Local governments that have already issued compensation standards for home demolition should strictly follow the rules. Those who have yet to issue the standards should do so by the end of June, the notice said.
If the existing compensation standards are considered low, local governments are required to update the rule as soon as possible, the report said, without offering details.
Officials responsible for "vicious incidents" caused by demolitions or land requisition will be held accountable, according to the notice.
China's Constitution and Property Law stipulate that a citizen's private property is inviolable, and governments should only be able to confiscate someone's home for public welfare construction. Compensation must be paid before relocation.
However, in the existing Regulation on Urban Housing Demolition, the rights of property owners are not specified.
The State Council is moving to revise this regulation to make it consistent with relevant laws.
However, so far, the new regulation has not yet been released, but illegal demolitions have made headlines frequently.
The latest case was reported in North China's Hebei province, in which the local government of a poverty-stricken county pulled down houses of more than 1,000 families to accomplish a "county renovation plan", State broadcaster CCTV reported on Monday.
In order to win a good evaluation from upper authorities, Guangping county under Hebei's Handan city chalked out a renovation plan early this year, including removing old houses, building 10 major streets, increasing 1 million square meters of green area, and constructing six scenic spots.
More than 330,000 square meters, involving 1,000 urban and rural households, were demolished in 10 days in late March. No compensation contracts for land requisition or any agreements for resettlement were signed.
Local residents said only some of them had received demolition notices from the government, while others had not received any notice or documents until their houses were torn down, CCTV reported.
Most of the people received 300 to 400 yuan ($44-58) per square meter for their properties, when the average price for local commercial residential housing has reached 1,500 yuan per square meter.
Li Yunde, a local farmer, said the county government dismantled his five-room bungalow and also expropriated his 2,000-sq-m farmland.
Compensated only 89,000 yuan, Li's family set up a shabby shanty on the cornfield. The shanty, too, now faces demolition as a park is planned on the land.
Wang Weiyu, an official with the county government, told CCTV that the county decided to build several hundred apartments for relocation purposes, and the price would not surpass 900 yuan per square meter.
As a poverty-stricken county, the Guangping government got 130 million yuan in revenue, while the cost of the renovation plan is estimated at 2 billion yuan, the CCTV report said.