Protests against setting up university on farmland in Orissa

December 5th, 2008 - 3:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Puri (Orissa), Dec 5 (IANS) More than 2,000 people, including women, Friday began a march from Orissa’s temple city of Puri to state capital Bhubaneswar to protest the acquisition of farmland for setting up of a university promoted by the company Vedanta Resources.The protestors, carrying banners and shouting slogans, began their march from the Jagannath temple in Puri, about 56 km from Bhubaneswar.

Umaballav Ratha, leader of Srikhetra Milita Sangram Samiti, which is spearheading the agitation, told IANS that the protestors will reach Bhubaneswar by Sunday. They will then hold a demonstration in front of the state assembly.

The university, coming up on 6,000 acres near the Puri-Konarka marine drive, is being set up by the Anil Agarwal Foundation, promoted by industrialist Anil Agarwal, who is also chairman of Vedanta Resources.

Villagers are opposed to the construction of the university since they claim they will lose their farmland. They also allege that part of the land used for the project belongs to the Jagannath temple trust.

A foundation official said 256.49 acres has already been acquired for the university. This includes 385.15 acres of government and 1871.34 acres of private land.

Once built, the proposed university will accommodate over 100,000 students.

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