Controversial Vedanta University gets Orissa assembly nod


Bhubaneswar: The Orissa assembly Thursday passed a controversial bill proposing a Rs.150-billion university in the state to be promoted by NRI billionaire and chairman of Britain’s Vedanta Resources Anil Agarwal.

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The bill was passed through a voice vote after the government agreed to make some modification as sought by some ruling as well as opposition members.

The Anil Agarwal foundation proposes to set up a multi-disciplinary Vedanta University spread over 6,000 acres near the Konark-Puri marine drive, some 56 km from here, catering to 100,000 students.

The foundation wanted 10,000 acres of land but the government reduced it to 6,000 acres. The state government has already acquired 4,000 acres of land despite local opposition.

Chairman of the Knowledge Commission Sam Pitroda is likely to be university’s first chancellor, Higher Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra said, while replying to the debate.

The authorities were also in consultation with at least three nobel laureates to join as faculty, he said arguing in favour of the project.

The Vedanta University Bill was introduced last year but it faced stiff resistance from the opposition. The bill was re-introduced Saturday again triggering protest from opposition parties.

Opposition Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan said: “The organisation which has proposed to set up the university has never run any educational institution in the past. How can the government hand over such a large chunk of land to it?”