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'Barbaric' relocation outlawed
8/3/2005 8:12

Shanghai Daily news

Anyone found cutting off power, water or gas to homes in order to encourage residents to move out and make way for infrastructure of commercial construction projects could face criminal penalties in the future, including jail terms or fines, the city announced yesterday.
A government release on the policy said criminal charges will only be laid, however, if such acts lead to "severe consequences."
Due to the city's rapid development over the past 15 years, nearly a million families have had to relocate to make way for infrastructure projects, such as subway lines and elevated highways, or commercial construction, such as shopping malls and office buildings.
While the residents are given compensation so they can afford to buy a new home, many have complained they weren't offered enough money and refused to leave. In order to encourage residents to stop fighting and start packing, some companies have resorted to illegal means to force them out.
Just last month, local police arrested the manager of a property company and two of his employees accused of setting fire to a three-story building in Xuhui District on January 9 in order to force an elderly couple to move. The couple died in the blaze.
With complaints about relocation becoming more common, the government said yesterday it will ensure residents have stronger legal rights, only allow qualified companies to negotiate compensation and make the system for calculating remuneration more transparent.
"We will conduct strict supervision to standardize relocation work and to safeguard people's legal rights and interests," Vice Mayor Yang Xiong told a government meeting yesterday.
He said the city will limit the number of relocated families to fewer than 60,000 this year.
Yang also called on government officials at all levels to carefully listen to people's complaints and to severely punish those relocation employees who force residents to move out by "barbaric means."
While the government will push ahead with relocation work to make way for key infrastructure projects, including sites for the 2010 World Expo, it will control the number of families moved to make way for commercial construction this year, he said.
The city will also set up a standard for those who move to make way for government projects, and publish it so residents can calculate how much compensation they should receive.
Payment will be calculated based on the location of the family's home, its size, age and condition. Compensation for those relocated by commercial projects is generally negotiated on a case-by-case basis.
The government will also improve supervision of relocation companies. Such companies are generally hired by the government or developers to handle all negotiations with families that must move. Unqualified firms won't be allowed to engage in the business in the future, government officials said yesterday.
More than 900,000 local families or about 2.8 million people have been relocated from their old and dilapidated houses and moved into new apartments since the early 1990s, according to the city government.