Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — A land lot at the heart of the Đồng Tâm dispute was not agricultural land like the residents claimed, but belonged to the military, the Hà Nội Inspectorate announced yesterday morning.
The inspectors reported their inspection results to a dozen representatives of Đồng Tâm Commune’s residents at a meeting held at Mỹ Đức District People’s Committee’s headquarters in the presence of the city People’s Committee chairman Nguyễn Đức Chung.
The prolonged land dispute revolves around 59ha of land, called Sênh field, upon which Đồng Tâm residents have apparently grown crops for decades, which authorities insisted belonged to the Miếu Môn military airport.
The two sides clashed when the Ministry of National Defence in 2014 decided to repossess the airport land, assigning it for a project of military-owned telecommunications group Viettel. The dispute reached its peak on April 15 when Hoành villagers took 38 police officers and Mỹ Đức officials hostage following the detention of four residents by local authorities.
The weeklong hostage crisis came to an end on April 22 when city leader Chung held a direct dialogue with the Hoành villagers, following a decision by the Hà Nội Inspectorate on April 20 to thoroughly investigate the management of Miếu Môn airport’s land in Đồng Tâm Commune. The four detained residents were also released.
The residents then freed all the police officers and Mỹ Đức officials, and agreed to await the inspection report to resolve the land dispute.
Not agricultural land
Hà Nội deputy chief inspector Nguyễn An Huy yesterday morning announced that the 59ha of disputed land did not belong to the Đồng Tâm residents.
“Miếu Môn airport’s land within the administrative boundary of Đồng Tâm Commune, which stretches over 64.11 ha, belongs to the military,” Huy said.
The airport was built in 1980 on land in three communes of Chương Mỹ District and Đồng Tâm Commune of Mỹ Đức District.
According to Huy, an inspection conducted in late June showed that all the cement landmarks marking Miếu Môn airport’s land were still intact since 1981. The area, however, stretched over 236.9ha, an increase of 28.9ha compared with the initial lot given to the defence ministry in 1980.
The increased area was the 31.9ha “affected from construction,” falling within the boundary of Chương Mỹ, not excluding 2.5ha of traffic roads and 0.5ha of measurement error, the inspection report stated.
However, the military units were at fault for failing to report the extra land to the defence ministry and the Prime Minister, Huy said.
The military also breached laws when they signed yearly contracts with the Đồng Tâm People’s Committee to allow the residents to use the military land for agricultural purpose. Those contracts ended in 2012, but the residents continued agricultural production on the land.
Resolving 47 complaints against authorities
In 2017, complaints were filed against the Mỹ Đức People’s Committee, allegedly accusing the local authorities of selling 6.8ha of land for an illegal profit of VNĐ4.08 trillion (US$181.3 million) and spending funds from the public budget to compensate 14 households that were forced to move from the military land due to Viettel’s project a higher amount than regulations allowed.
The city inspectors, after cross-checking documents and archives with the law, refuted the charges, saying the Mỹ Đức People’s Committee did not sell the land lot for illegal profits nor use the budget for compensation.
Hà Nội authorities, however, decided to revoke the land clearance compensation plan initially prepared by the Mỹ Đức People’s Committee for those households and said it would develop another plan in line with the reality and the law.
Viettel group will pay the compensation after the new plan goes public and is approved by the authorities, Huy said.
Referring to the residents’ request to give back to the Đồng Tâm people the money used to compensate the 14 households, the inspectors said it was baseless as the authorities were found to not have used the public budget for such a purpose.
According to the inspection report, 47 complaints were filed against Đồng Tâm officials from December 2013 to the end of 2016, accusing them of wrongdoings in land management. Those complaints were resolved by Mỹ Đức and the city authorities, followed by the Party’s disciplinary action against 19 individuals, eight of whom were expelled from the Party, while one was fired and 14 were disciplined at their workplaces.
The Mỹ Đức police also detained two former officials of Đồng Tâm Commune after initiating an investigation against 14 ex-officials of Mỹ Đức and Đồng Tâm for alleged power abuse in land management.
That the Đồng Tâm authorities verified inheritance, giving and transfer of documents of households living on military land from 2003 to 2010 was beyond their jurisdiction and breaching land laws, the inspection reported.
The Hà Nội Inspectorate asked the Mỹ Đức and Đồng Tâm authorities to ensure they had firm solutions to force households who were illegally occupying military land to return the land to Viettel.
It also asked the defence ministry and the police to look into the responsibilities of those tasked with managing Miếu Môn airport’s land who had committed wrongdoings during the time. — VNS