An online rumor that accused Lu Ming, deputy head of Shanghai's Pudong district, of owning a 2,000-square-meter villa in the city's Chongming county was denied by the local government on Sunday.
"It's a two-story house built on a lot of 110 square meters," said Bao Chun, head of Fukang village in Chongming's Xianghua town, where the property is located.
The house was legally approved by the local government, and Lu went through the complete procedures when it was built in 2008, he added.
The Shanghai Office of Correcting Illegitimate Practices of All Trades said it was looking into the online report and its initial investigation showed Lu's two-story villa has a total floor area of 246.88 sq m, with auxiliary single-story buildings covering a floor area of 63.04 sq m.
The online rumor, which spread widely on micro blog platform Sina Weibo, said the local planning and land authority had turned a blind eye to local residents' requests to disclose land construction procedures.
"Lu no longer holds the rural hukou (household registration). Only those with rural hukou are allocated with land for building houses. How come Lu with an urban hukou can build the house?" a local villager surnamed Jin asked, adding the enclosing walls for the house were only removed after the house was shown online, before that nobody knew could tell how big the villa was from outside.
"It's some privilege (to build such grand villa) that you couldn't buy even if you were rich," said Jin, explaining that the local policy of building houses in the countryside limits the land used for building houses to 90 sq m for a family of three and 100 sq m for a family of five.
Bao, the village head, however, said Lu's parents have rural hukou, which permitted the building of the house, and the housing procedures for the villa were completed before the policy was adopted in July 2007.
"We were allowed to build the house as big as 150 sq m, but only used 110 sq m," said Lu Mei, Lu Ming's youngest sister. "Also the house is owned not just by my eldest brother (Lu Ming), but also by my parents and another brother."
Lu Mei told China Daily that the family had planned to reduce the size of the garden before Spring Festival, as people said it is too big, "but my mother had an accident and that's why it hasn't happened yet".
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