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Farmers question ministry on forced land acquisition

Update: August, 23/2012 - 11:13
HA NOI – Tran Vu Hai, a lawyer representing irate Hung Yen farmers, on Tuesday questioned the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Chu Pham Ngoc Hien, about how land belonging to farmers was revoked for a building project.

The land in question had been earmarked for the 500ha Ecopark urban housing project in northern Hung Yen Province's Van Giang District.

At a meeting with 100 farmers from the district organised by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in its Ha Noi headquarters yesterday, Tran Vu Hai asked why the ministry had advised the Prime Minister to define 500ha of farm land for development into a 149ha housing estate and 351ha of parks, golf course, canals, community house and roads.

Another 300 district people stood outside the ministry waiting for the outcome of the meeting, which had been organised by the ministry itself to try and answer farmers' questions and to explain its own responsibilities and authority in the issue.

Hai asked the ministry to answer 12 questions and supply documents relating to the project.

The meeting then focused on the project's origin and implementation through administrative documents; procedures taken on land planning and revocation; the legality of forced land evictions carried out by local authorities in April this year; and the rights and interests of the farmers after their land was taken.

The Van Giang District urban-area project was approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. It was backed by Viet Hung Urban Development and Investment Company with a reported US$6 billion.

District authorities have already handed nearly 72ha of cleared agricultural land in the district to the investor of the Van Giang Urban-Trade-Tourism Project. More than 66ha of the land was voluntarily handed over by farmers who accepted compensation.

However, 5.8ha was said to have been seized by force from 166 householders who had rejected compensation.

Hien said the use of farm land for building house and establishing a park should follow approval given by Hung Yen People's Committee.

He provided the farmers with legal documents related to their concerns and said the ministry would soon send written answers to their 12 questions.

Hien said if the farmers weren't satisfied with the answers, they could continue to send questions to the ministry. – VNS

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