Bhubaneswar, July 19: The Anil Agarwal Foundation (AAF) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Orissa government to set up a Rs 15,000-crore university that would be on a par with “Stanford, Oxford and Harvard”.
The government has offered 8,000 acres on the Puri-Konark marine drive, 60 km from here, for the university. The foundation, promoted by chairman of Vedanta Resources Plc Anil Agarwal, had earlier asked for 10,000 acres.
State higher education secretary A.K. Tripathy and AAF director (corporate strategy) Dhanpal Jhaveri inked the MoU in the presence of chief minister Naveen Patnaik and the Vedanta chairman.
Under the deal, the government is committed to provide land, a four-lane road to the project site and a link to the nearest national highway, water supply at the rate of 1,10,000 cubic metres per day and 150 MW power initially and up to 600 MW later. Besides, the state will also enact a legislation to grant complete administrative autonomy to Vedanta University.
The foundation has appointed Ayers Saint Gross, a firm that has designed some of the best campuses of the world, to prepare the master plan for the varsity. The institute is expected to open in 2008 and its expansion will be over by 2025.
Agarwal, flanked by wife Kiran and daughter Priya, said India has the potential to be a global leader in business, technology, science, performing arts and sports. “Vedanta University will make global standards of educational excellence more accessible to the future generations of our country, thereby creating tomorrow’s Nobel laureates, Olympic champions and heads of government and state,” he said.
Chief minister Patnaik hoped that the university would generate a vast pool of knowledge and human resource in the fields of engineering, health, management and sports.
“It (university) will drive growth not only in Orissa and the rest of India but also in entire east Asia”, he said.
The AAF had earlier announced an endowment of $1 billion for the university. “I don’t think money will be a constraint. We have to start with the endowment money of $1billion,” Agrawal said while speaking to reporters.
The UK-based industrialist said he would not prevent the university from earning profit but his family would not take anything from the pie, if any. The foundation had been projecting the university as one that would follow a “not-for-profit” model.
Agrawal, who did not say if the university was a ploy to divert public opinion from the company’s controversial refinery project at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, said the 8,000-acre plot would be used to set up the main university building, library, sports arena, hostels as well as for agricultural research.