Special Correspondent

Doubts raised over government’s ‘desperate attempts’ to help Anil Agarwal Foundation

Opposition questions decision to hand over 6,000 acres along marine drive

Rs. 15,000 crore will be spent on its establishment, says Minister

BHUBANESWAR: Despite strong opposition from Opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party, a Bill pertaining to the establishment of the proposed Vedanta University near Puri was passed in the State Assembly on Thursday.

The contentious Bill was passed by a voice vote after it was discussed threadbare in the Assembly.

The discussion on the Bill had started on Wednesday afternoon, but as the debate remained inconclusive the duration of the House was extended by a day to complete the same.

Opposing the Bill on various counts, Opposition Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan said they were not opposed to the establishment of the proposed university but questioned the State government’s decision to hand over 6,000-odd acres along the marine drive between Puri and Konark for the project.

Mr. Harichandan also raised doubts about the government’s desperate attempts to help Anil Agarwal Foundation that proposes to establish the university with vast patch of valuable land.

“How can an organisation having run no educational institution be trusted to such an extent and given such a vast area of land for a university,” Mr. Harichandan queried.

Countering the opposition charges, State Higher Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra said that the Foundation required a vast area as it would set up a world-class multi-disciplinary university with more than 100,000 students. A sum of Rs. 15,000 crore will be spent for establishment of the university, he said.

Mr. Mishra also informed the House that the authorities of the proposed university were in consultation with Chairman of National Knowledge Commission Sam Pitroda to join as the head the proposed university.

The Anil Agarwal Foundation, promoted by Chairman of Vedanta Resources Plc Anil Agarwal, had signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the State government in July 2006 to establish the university over 8,000 acres of land. The State government had later reduced the land area to 6,000-odd acres following protest from the people who would lose their land for the project.