In April, China Youth Daily reported the annihilation of a Yunnan lake to make room for townhouses. Ironically, this destruction was part of a redevelopment project seeking to "enhance Dali's image and provide a perfect spot where locals can go for recreation." Following public outcry over the lake's demise, the Chinese government launched an investigation into "Erhai Paradise" project (洱海天域). Here are some details (from 官商勾结毁掉大理情人湖 “洱海天域”被查 大理6人落马):
Ever since the Dali government gave "Erhai Paradise" project the green light in December 2003, thanks to support and recommendations from officials such as former governor's assistant Guo Hongjun (郭宏峻), Tianjian Shuifeng CEO Chen Bai (陈白) has been silencing any possible objections to "Erhai Paradise" with bribes.How did Chen Bai ensure government approval for this series of violations?
In an unauthorized move, this company [Tianjian Shuifeng Co. Ltd 中建穗丰置业有限公司] changed the land-use designation of the 27.21 mu real estate from commercial to integrated. The deceptive re-labeling allowed the company to pay the government 30 million yuan for the land and then receive back 20 million yuan in compensatory fund, effectively lowering the price. Once in possession of the land, the company altered both nature of the project and the design plans...
The company drove down the price for limber and other state-owned assets, resulting in more than a million yuan loss in national assets. Moreover, the company cut trees outside the permitted time window. The main engineering project of Erhai Paradise, a 5 star hotel that was set to finish construction by 2005, is still incomplete [while the villas are ready and being sold].
Former Party Secretary and Dali Mayor Duan Li (段力) accepted more than 4 million yuan worth of gifts and bribes from Chen Bai. Former governor's assistant Guo Hongjun received an 1 million yuan house and 2 Omega watches. Former deputy mayor Fang Yuan (方元) received 400,000 yuan worth of gifts and bribes. He is also accused of causing hundreds of millions loss in state assets.
Duan Li has been expelled from the Party and discharged from his position. Fang Yuan has been discharged from his position. Others were turned over to relevant departments in accordance with the management hierarchy. Guo Hongjun, Duan Li, Fang Yuan, Chen Bai and two others were transferred to judicial branches to await the verdict. It was reported that 17 officials incriminated in this project.
The Dali government will reclaim the 20 million yuan mentioned earlier. Dali Bureau of Land and Resources are requesting an additional 1.80 million yuan for the land transfer. Dali Bureau of Urban Planning is fining the company more than 10 million yuan, and Dali Department of Forestry is fining the company more than 3 million yuan.
Though Netizens are clamoring for lake restoration, no hint of such an action was given in the news report. Nor was the fate of the villas revealed.