Uncertainty Over Vedanta University Intensifies, President Bijay Patnaik Resigns

BHUBANESWAR: Former Odisha chief secretary Bijay Kumar Patnaik today said he has resigned as the president of the proposed Vedanta University. “Yes, I have resigned as the president of the proposed Vedanta University. My service is now under notice period. It will expire after the notice period,” Patnaik told reporters here. Mr. Patnaik had joined Vedanta Group as president of the Vedanta University project after he resigned from the post of member, Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC). Patnaik was appointed as the member of the OHRC after his retirement from the government service.

“I had tried my best for the establishment of the Vedanta University. We formed collaboration with different foreign universities. But, there was not much interest from the foundation,” Mr. Patnaik said adding that land is a major hurdle before the establishment of the Vedanta University.

The Anil Agarwal Foundation (AAF) has been the promoter of the proposed world class varsity.

“The varsity is not an industry. It can be started from rented houses also,” Mr. Patnaik said.

With Mr. Patnaik’s resignation, the uncertainty over establishment of the Vedanta University has further intensified. The varsity is entangled in a legal battle over land acquisition after the Orissa High Court termed the land acquisition made for it as illegal.

The Vedanta Foundation on July 19, 2006 had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state government to set up the university. Therefore, the state government confirmed availability of 8,000 acres of land and made notifications to acquire of 6137.90 acre land covering 18 villages along Puri-Konark marine drive.

The state government had also acquired 4004.48 acre land and handed it over to the Vedanta Foundation. However, the people opposing the project filed a public interest litigation in the High Court which rejected the state government’s land acquisition.

Vedanta Foundation in December 2010, filed a special leave petition (SPL) in the Supreme Court challenging the verdict of the Orissa High Court. The apex court in 2012 ordered status quo on the land acquisition. The case is now pending in the Supreme Court.