Villagers relocated for expensive cemetery

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Nearly 1,100 villagers in Guangdong Province are being relocated from their hometown to make way for an expensive cemetery for revolutionary heroes and government officials, sparking a controversy.

Villagers relocated for expensive cemetery.[File photo]

Villagers relocated for expensive cemetery.[File photo]

The Fushan Revolutionary Cemetery is set to occupy 86.7 hectares of land in Fushan Village and costs 620 million yuan (US$101 million), said Zhuang Yuequn, director of the Guangzhou Civil Affairs Bureau.

The project will start this October and be completed by the end of 2014, he said in a January meeting.

Official data from 2008 showed there are 1,065 residents, 52.5 hectares of farmland and 886.7 hectares of forests in Fushan.

Most villagers plant fruit trees in the hills and raise fish in ponds, but the mountain forests will be converted into a huge cemetery, reported Insight China magazine.

The requisition of land has almost been completed and most villagers have claimed their compensation, villager Zhang Liang was cited as saying.

He added the government paid 184,500 yuan per hectare of land.

The vegetation will be cut down and houses will be demolished to make room for 50,000 tombs in the cemetery, Zhang told the Beijing-based magazine.

Guangzhou presently only has Yinhe Revolutionary Cemetery for martyrs and it will soon be full. Only 300 new tombs could be offered per year over the past three years and they sold out immediately, a cemetery management official told the magazine.

Insight China quoted Guangzhou's civil affairs director that the city has about 60,000 deaths each year and most are regular citizens.

According to the rules, a revolutionary cemetery is for revolutionary martyrs, high-ranking government officials and in recent years, individuals deemed of major importance due to their contributions to society.

Fan Haiquan, a researcher from Guangdong Social Sciences Academy, was quoted as saying: "There are no new revolutionary heroes since New China has existed for more than 60 years. Most of the people who sacrificed their lives in wars have passed away. Therefore, today's so-called revolutionary figures are just government officials."

Fan Ying, a Guangdong sociologist, agreed and told the magazine it's not proper to build a cemetery for revolutionaries anymore. The government needs to build a cemetery open to everyone because more people are complaining that it is hard to find a tomb, he added.

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