The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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High court stays land acquisition for varsity

Cuttack, Oct. 6: The proposed international university to be set up by the Vedanta group in the state has hit a roadblock. The high court has stayed the land acquisition process for the project.

The wish of London-based Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources Corporation to acquire land along the Puri-Konark marine drive for its proposed Rs 15,000 crore university project suffered a jolt as the Orissa High Court issued a stay order on the land acquisition process undertaken by the state government.

The two-judge bench of Justice I.M. Qudussi and Justice Sanju Panda issued the interim order on Friday hearing a petition filed by Rajiv Pujari, the managing director of Sun Green Valley.

The outcome of the case assumes significance as the Vedanta group’s interest in establishing India’s first and only world class, multi-disciplinary university on a par with Stanford, Oxford and Harvard universities hinges on it. The Anil Agarwal Foundation had already announced an endowment of $1 billion for the university.

The state government is committed to provide 8,000 acres of land on the Puri-Konark marine drive, 60km from Bhubaneswar, as part of a MoU it had signed with the Anil Agarwal Foundation (AAF) in July last year.

The state government had initiated the land acquiring process with a 28.30-acre patch under Beladala mouza in the marine drive region.

Sun Green Valley, a tourism promoting company, moved the court challenging the state government’s decision and sought a stay on the allotment of the land to Vedanta Resources Corporation.

Yashobant Das, the counsel for Sun Green Valley, pointed out in the court that a tourism promoting project envisaging a water park and a museum was underway on the 28.30 acre of land when the government issued a notification for acquiring it for the proposed university. Though an appeal was filed for cancellation of the notification, the government turned it down.

The next hearing of the case would take place on November 14, the two-judge bench said, ordering an injunction on the land acquiring process for the proposed university till further orders.

The court also called for submission of the MoU signed between the Anil Agarwal Foundation and the state government to set up the university while issuing notices to the Puri collector.

The proposed university is expected to start functioning next year.

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