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Beijing to raze final 22 migrant villages before Olympics

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dpa German Press Agency
Published: Wednesday December 6, 2006

Beijing- Officials in Beijing plan to demolish 22 remaining "urban villages", which are home mainly to poor migrants, in a six-month clean-up before the 2008 Olympic Games, state media said on Wednesday. The 22 villages will be razed during a campaign to demolish 3.32 million square metres of "illegal constructions" by the end of June, the Beijing Daily said.

The campaign will result in Beijing having "renovated" a total of 171 such villages, the newspaper said.

It will also clean up 60 areas of land close to Olympic venues and other key sites in the city.

The demolitions are part of Beijing's "greening" programme to "create a better environment for the Olympic Games", the official Xinhua news agency quoted the Beijing 2008 Environmental Construction Headquarters as saying.

The reports did say how many people would have to leave the villages and other demolished buildings, or where they would move to.

The agency quoted deputy mayor Ji Lin as saying officials must "put people first" during the demolitions and ensure that relocations are "well prepared".

Beijing officials have previously rejected rights groups' accusations that they are trying to force poor migrants out of the city before the 2008 Olympics.

During the massive redevelopment of Beijing in the last 10 years, many residents have accused developers of resorting to violence to evict people who are unwilling to move.

Some home owners have been forced to move with little or no compensation other than a new rented apartment.

In the pre-Olympic campaign, the Beijing government also aims to demolish illegal extensions to residential and commercial buildings, particularly in areas close to the city centre.

It will clean up garbage dumps, resurface roads, clear away illegal advertisements, and plant trees and grass along railways, the agency said.

Earlier reports said Beijing plans to construct green belts of at least 10 metres around all Olympic venues and other important buildings by 2008.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency