The North District Council passed a non-binding motion Thursday asking the government to suspend a controversial development project in the northeast New Territories.

It wants the government to settle with affected villagers on compensation and relocation issues before submitting a revised version of the development plan to the council.

north district council
North District Council. File Photo: InMedia.

Several local councillors said at Thursday’s meeting that the government pushed through the plan without properly addressing the concern of villagers whose homes will be torn down to make way for development.

But Ivan Chung Man-kit, principal assistant secretary of the Development Bureau, said the government has no plan to withdraw the plan, though he promised to “actively” consider the views of the councillors.

‘Rather die’

Dozens of villagers from northern Fanling and Kwu Tung – many of whom were elderly people – staged a protest outside the meeting venue. They said the government failed to listen to their views and offer adequate compensation.

They gave petition letters to a representative of the Home Affairs Department and the chair of the North District Council.

On Monday, villagers from the affected area also protested at a town hall meeting. Some asked the government to halt the plan, while others requested more compensation.

NENT villagers protest
NENT villagers protested at a meeting with the North District Council. The banner in front says “I beg for euthanasia.” File Photo: InMedia.

The government proposes paying each household a maximum of HK$600,000 in compensation. But critics said the amount is far from sufficient for the villagers to buy a flat or even a columbarium in the city.

An elderly protester held a banner on Monday saying he would prefer euthanasia over being unable to resettle in a new home.

Since the development plan was proposed in 2013, it has been met with strong opposition from villagers, environmentalists and land rights advocates.

Around 1,000 households in northern Fanling, Kwu Tung and Ta Kwu Ling are estimated to be affected by the development plan.

north district
The North District. File Photo: GovHK.

See also: Suspected arson attack at Fanling farmland at centre of dispute between villagers and property developer

A government document submitted to the North District Council said around 16,000 new flats will be available after the completion of the first phase of the NENT project in northern Fanling and Kwu Tung. It will accommodate an added population of around 46,600 people.

The whole project will provide up to 60,000 new housing units.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.