The National Forestry and Grassland Administration on Wednesday sent an investigation team to scrutinize an illegal private manor in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, which was established after destroying a large area of forest.
According to the China News Service, the investigation into the manor is intended to verify the facts about the damage to the forest, as well as illegal use of forest land.
Cao Bo, legal representative of caoyuan and its project manager, were detained for illegal construction on Wednesday, according to the Mudanjiang government.
The notice came after the chief of the Heilongjiang Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) also requested that the authorities should, in a timely manner, find the facts and punish those who are guilty after finding the truth, the China National Radio (CNR) reported on Wednesday.
The private manor called caoyuan, located in a grand forest of Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang Province, covering an area of 2.3 square kilometers, has been developed by a local company since 2005, according to the CNR report.
Online photos show that the manor is magnificent, with even a museum inside and plans for a golf course, according to caoyuan's website, which could not be opened as of press time.
An insider, surnamed Zhang, told the CNR that during the construction of the manor, a large area of trees in the forest were cut unlawfully, which heavily damaged the national forest.
Zhang also revealed that there is a hunting ground in the manor where many wild animals including deer were killed.
Yang Xuhui, head of forest police in Mudanjiang, confirmed that the manor did cause damage to the forest area. And the manor's coverage has sharply surpassed its allowed area which was 0.0276 square kilometers, according to the preliminary investigation.
When applying for permission, caoyuan's company told the forestry bureau of Mudanjiang that the project was constructed to protect forest, the CNR report said.
Su Linfang, who is in charge of building the manor, said that it is aimed at developing tourism.
However, local tourism bureau refuted the claim and relevant authorities also confirmed that caoyuan is an illegally constructed building.
Yang said that although the case has been put on record, there are some difficulties in finding the truth. "The construction started many years ago so a lot of important information, such as original documents, is hard to find," he said, "We need to collect enough proof before determining accountability."
The city's department of natural resources noted that the manor had been punished three times in 2009, 2015 and 2018 for illegally occupying land.
The company did pay a fine but the unlawful building has not been torn down, the CNR reported.
The authorities will launch an eight-month action to crack down on illegal behavior of logging and damaging grassland, especially for building villas and golf ranges, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration announced last Wednesday on its website.