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‘Tofu-dregs’ village errected in southwest China to gouge government for compensation

A local government in southwest China is demolishing scores of shoddy fake homes that were built in a scam to gain government compensation, mainland media reports.

Some 600 workers were hired for the demolition operation that started on Monday in a village in Liuzhou city, Guangxi Zhang Autonomous Region, the Liuzhou Evening News reports.

These newly constructed houses, most of them taller than three storeys, were built with walls the thickness of a single brick and used plywood panels for floors, an official from the city management bureau said.

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Some of the buildings were erected on the vegetable fields, while others sat next to abandoned fish ponds.

One of the demolition workers described the structures as “tofu-dregs projects” – a widely used in China to describe a poorly constructed buildings or infrastructure.

The city management official said the village was covered under the city’s blueprint for reconstruction so the buildings were erected quickly in the hope of increasing government compensation for their demolition.

It’s believed the houses were built by outsiders, who first rented the land from local villagers before hiring builders to quickly erect houses. In such reconstruction projects, the government or real estate developers buy homes that are earmarked to make way for housing estates and the price paid is based on the size of the houses acquired.

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To cut costs, no steel or other costly materials were used in the construction. Instead, they used cheap cladding and plywood over bamboo pole frames, the official said.

Each building could be built in a few days for cost of only about 150 yuan to 200 yuan (HK$175 to HK$233) per square metre.

More than 20,000 square metres of the illegal structures have been knocked down, the report said.

Local authorities warned that such poorly constructed buildings posed serious safety threats to local villagers, and the government would pay no compensation for their removal.