CHINA / National

Inspectors to stem loss of farmland
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-07-25 06:45

Nine inspection bureaus will be set up nationwide to strengthen supervision of land acquisition, a document published on the government website said yesterday.

Each bureau will be responsible for land use within its jurisdiction. For example, the Beijing bureau covers the capital city, Tianjin, the provinces of Hebei and Shanxi and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Inspectors will oversee land protection in the provinces or municipalities, ensuring that local policies on land use and management conform with national laws and regulations. They will also check how the local governments implement central government policies and propose improvement to tighten controls.

If cases of illegal land use are uncovered, the bureau inspectors should immediately tell the local governments to take corrective measures; and report to the central authorities if the problem is not rectified.

A special department will be set up under the Ministry of Land and Resources to co-ordinate work, according to the document.

Illegal occupation and use of land is widespread in the country, often in connivance with local officials.

Statistics from the ministry suggest that one in three construction projects in recent years are on land acquired illegally. From October 2004 to May 2005, the figure jumped to one in two projects.

The latest move comes as about 15 million farmers are expected to lose their land in the next five years due to increased urbanization.

In the past decade, about 40 million farmers lost their land as a result of rapid urbanization, the nation's social security authority said in a news release.

Even with government efforts to rein in commercial development of farmland, about 3 million more farmers are likely to lose their land annually over the next five years, a ministry official said.

"To resolve the current problems and safeguard the long-term livelihood of farmers whose land is acquired, we need proper employment training and social security," the official said, according to a post on
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