Vedanta University tries to nudge the Odisha government to action by threatening to move out of state

June 15th, 2010

Following is a report by Kalpana Pathak from sify.com.

The estimated $3-bn Vedanta University was to start Phase-I by mid-2011 but is facing stiff opposition from locals.

The Anil Agarwal Foundation’s plan to set up a Rs 15,000- crore varsity in Puri (Orissa), called Vedanta University, has come a cropper. The management is now in talks with two southern states for alternative land to set up the varsity.

The Anil Agarwal Foundation’s Vedanta University is modeled on Stanford University and aims to be a worldclass, multi-disciplinary university with students from across India and around the world. However, the varsity, which was to begin operations by mid-2011, has not even started the basic infrastructure work on the land due to stiff opposition from locals and lack of political support.

… "We sought support from the state government but it is silent. We agreed to set up the university on government’s invitation but now we are very disappointed. We even revised our initial plans of having the campus on 8,000 to 6,000 acres," admits an official from the university who did not wish to be named. The university board has managed to acquire around 4,000 acres of land so far.

A director of a local institute told Business Standard: "The university concept as such is a good one and considering the varsity is facing stiff opposition from locals, the foundation should look for a smaller piece of land and begin operations."

The Foundation says if it’s not able to set up the university in Orissa, the land acquired could be made into an extended arm of the university which, could be housed outside Orissa.

The Foundation and the state government in 2006, had signed a memorandum of understanding to create the University. In July 2009, the government of Orissa passed a bill to allow the massive university to be set up and function with autonomy. The university being built with an investment of Rs 15,000 crore has plans to come up in three phases. Phase one was to be operational by mid-2011 with an investment of Rs 5,000 crore. The first academic session at the university was to begin in 2009 but the project has been delayed for over two years due to land acquisition tussle with the local residents of Puri. With further delays, the university could take longer to get operational.

To begin with, the university expects to start operations with around 1,000 students in the arts and science streams. The student intake, however, will grow steadily to reach an ultimate goal of 100,000 students. The university board however, is still working on the modalities involving admission and fee structure.

The university has awarded construction contracts of the academic buildings as well as the hospital at the project site to companies like Larsen & Toubro, Shapoorji Pallonji, Ahluwalia, B E Billimoria and Simplex. Architects Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore, USA, have prepared the master plan of the University. Few international scholars like Will Chase, Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Sam Pitroda are said to have evinced interest in the project.

The campus will have a super specialty hospital, which will answer a long standing need for providing comprehensive and specialized patient care for the people of Orissa and eastern India. Both the University and the hospital are ‘not-for-profit’ institutions. World-renowned hospital architects are developing the design for the hospital, Perkins and Will from USA. The university will also establish research parks to promote science and technology-based entrepreneurship and support an innovation-driven incubator. E-learning programmes will also be launched in future.

At this point, I am not sure the state government is at fault. The state government has passed the Vedanta University Bill. The construction and further land acqusition is stopped by the environmental ministry of the central government (see here and here), and the high court case. I think for the latter Vedanta University Project and its official bear some responsibility as it seems that in their haste to speed up the process of land acquisition, they might not have dotted the i’s at the right time.

Nevertheless, as per the reported recommendations of the Lokpal, the issue is mostly technical. I hope both get resolved soon and the progress is resumed.

One thing the state government can do now is to initiate a dialog with the PM, HRD M and Ministry of Environment to sort out the environmental issues at the earliest. On its part Vedanta University Project should start taking actions as laid out in its act. It should also seriously consider starting some graduate programs at the earliest.

Entry Filed under: Bhubaneswar-Cuttack-Puri- Khurda area (1),BJP attempt to steal it to Karnataka,Congress attempt to steal it to Andhra,Congress ruled Andhra's overture,Environment minister Jairam Ramesh, Congress MP from Andhra, creates hurdles,Vedanta University, Puri

10 Writeup

  • 1. alok  |  June 15th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    The state govt can always give some options to vedanta..like alternate locations and not just sticking to the present one.There are so many places lying vacant.Should encourage to setup the university in some tribal zone where human habitant is least developed.An airport is not a major obstacle if one should make sure that the univ is not going out of Orissa.The stubborn attitude of the state govt will just ruin the dream of a world class university.

  • 2. pradipta ray  |  June 15th, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    i dont think its a problem
    in my opinion we have to change the location from puri to a place between jharsuguda and rourkela national highway

    this decission will not create any type of problem to the puri pupil. because they are against the vedant university

    the university should come to the area near to the vedant steel plant..also by this decission the academic coordination can be easier

  • 3. kums  |  June 16th, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    im sure that **** jairam ramaesh must be putting pressure on vedenta to shift the campus to south. Afer all its not his fault , its our nikama oriya leaders who are unable to work aggresivey and diplomatically. ORIYA’s will remain forvever backward and work under southern managers for generations to come because of their attitude,thinking, ..etc . Can i have any mailid of the concern dept to whome we can write some mails making them aware of our concerns, though i know they check their mails box annually. cant u guys do some thing…………………

  • 4. stingidea  |  June 16th, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    What are Odiyas afraid of losing? We are the poorest of the poor. Yet we are against big industries, big universities, big projects. It is totally unfortunate. Look at the the report below. Districts in Orissa feature at the bottom. In a country like India if you feature at the bottom of list then things must be really bad.

    http://www.ndtv.com/news/cities/delhi-and-mumbai-have-best-living-standards-in-india-survey-31921.php

  • 5. bagdu  |  June 17th, 2010 at 1:52 am

    I wonder how few acres of land make a difference for a start.Why do the coporates go slow when it comes to the social projects?I wonder if instead of an education project it were a copper plant, Mr Agarwal would be so lethargic and giving excuses like this. This is certainly not like Mr Carnegie whose example Mr Agarwal is supposedly emulating.
    As of now it just seems to be Business whose name happens to be education.

  • 6. Devasis  |  June 18th, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    A University of Xavier is planned for 100 acres or so and Vedanta requires 6000 to start operation!!! If they have procured 4000 acres, they can still start their phase 1 with the same and then request government intervention at a later date. Has the Government requested them to give the status of recruitment of world class faculty. They don’t come to a developed state like Andhra and ISB receives only visitinig faculty on the weekends that too becoz they have a international airport of some standard and Infosys on the opposite side. Maybe the government would have tried something similar by giving other lage corporates like Tata and Infosys a small peice of land say 500 acres and a good six lane from BBSR airport and convert it international. Then it could have been in a better bargaining power with Vedanta. They sure have the money to make it happen but do they have the WILL or is this only a lnd grabbing exercise only time will tell

  • 7. Chitta Baral  |  June 18th, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    @Devasis

    You can find my analysis on the land requirement at http://www.orissalinks.com/archives/1696 .

    Vedanta University Project had given contracts to start construction with the land they have now. But the directive from Jairam Ramesh’s ministry asks them to stop doing any construction.

  • 8. Sambit  |  June 23rd, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    1. world class University in many countries stands in a 100 acres..
    why Anil Agrawal needs 6000 acres….when already it has acquired 4000 acres…

    2.Have u ever visited the area where Anil has acquired the land…?
    That area is very fertile with rice cultivation and full of coconut trees…why the nature has to be destroyed and lively hood of people has to be taken away…?

    3.BBSR, puri,cuttack is already a developed area….Projects like this should come in tribal areas where we really needs development.

    4. as per the MOU, the university will not pay a single tax to Govt of Orissa for first 20 years…instead the govt has to make a four lane road from BBSR to Puri for University from its pocket….and the tender for that is already out ….
    why…..and why…..?

    5. Anil is saying University is a philanthrophic act,,,,,
    then why the land is being acquired under INDUSTRIAL ACT…forcefully…
    ? why and why….

    Now come to real underlying fact…..
    1.DRDO has reported the presence of THORIUM Nuclear in the land being acquired by ANIL. Thats why the Anil MARWARI is after that land……

    Marwari has ulterior motive in the Philantrophic University……

    2. Unofficially report is that ….the land may be used afterwards for REAL ESATATE development….Thats why marwari is after that land….have u ever heard of any project needing 6000 acres….?

    Oriyas are no more NIKAMAS….they are now coming out in all field of business…but we are not that clever…it will take time…

    Thanks Sambit

  • 9. JULIAN CAPPER  |  July 6th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Dear Sir,

    In order to send you an attachment about your university, please send me an email address to which I may write.

    Thank you,

    Julian Capper

  • 10. Chitta Baral  |  July 6th, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Google my name. you will find my email address.


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