A decade ago, Nguyen Trong Van’s land was acquired for public works while officials grabbed some; he is finally getting justice.
Mr. Van and his wife
Robbed of the land by local cadres, a man with his family finally see their efforts paid for after years of sending away letters of complaints.
In 1989 Nguyen Trong Van, 74, his wife, and children left Nghe An Province in the north to settle down in Daklak Province in the Central Highlands.
The family lived in M’Drak District on more than 1,500 square meters of land close to National Highway 26.
Four years later the district People’s Committee approved a zoning map for a central Krong Jing Commune residential quarter and took over a portion of Van’s land.
In April 1994 district authorities informed Van that 510 square meters of his land would be appropriated for building a war martyrs’ monument.
In 2004 they asked him to dismantle two wooden houses on the piece of land.
But Van refused saying he had not received the land acquisition decision, valuation report, compensation, or resettlement support.
Twenty days later, authorities forcibly took it over.
He had to concede another 300 square meters for the power grid corridor but received compensation for it.
An additional 660 square meters were illegally occupied and in 2006 gifted to the daughter of the district party secretary Dao Hong Thinh, sister of the district chairman Phan Van Chan, and daughter-in-law of the commune chairman Le Van Trung.
Thinh is now retired, Chan is secretary of the M’Drak District party committee, and Trung is secretary of the Ea Lai Commune party committee.
Van and his family fell into poverty and debt and had no place to live. He had to sell lottery tickets, his wife became a ragpicker, and their children had to work.
Compensations: not personal money
Six years later, after Van sent dozens of complaint letters, the Daklak Province people’s committee issued a decision last January ordering the M’Drak authorities to revoke their decisions and compensate his family.
Van demanded VND100 million (US$4,760) for the two houses pulled down in 2004 and VND150 million for the 510 square meters of land (currently worth over VND1 billion) taked over for the monument construction.
Nguyen Tien Loc, chairman of Krong Jing Commune, offered Van a house under a government housing program for the poor in rural areas, a sum of VND20 million, 200 kilos of rice, and 12 cubic meters of rocks for construction, but he rejected the offer.
Van said he wanted compensation, not alms, from the government, adding that the house offered to him was for the poor and not related to compensation by commune and district authorities.
Le Dinh Dien, chairman of M’Drak District, said his administration had issued a decision to take over 510 square meters of Van’s land and assigned Krong Jing authorities to oversee it.
The district people’s committee has now returned to Van the 660 square meters taken over illegally from him, he said.
It has also asked the provincial government for compensation money but has yet to receive a reply, he said.
On June 16 Dien told Tuoi Tre that the provincial government has agreed to provide VND100 million to the district to pay compensation to Van.
The district administration has provided Van a house and VND10 million but did not compensate him for his 510 square meters, he added.
Asked if he intended to force district officials to compensate him from their pocket, Dien replied in the negative.