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Update at 1425 hrs (IST)

Vedanta varsity: Apex court orders status quo on land acquisition

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has ordered the Orissa Government to maintain status quo on the acquisition of 6,000 hectares of land for setting up an international university by the UK-based Vedanta Group in Puri.

Admitting a bunch of cross-appeals, a Bench of Mr Justices D.K. Jain and H.L. Dattu asked the State Government to maintain status quo on the process to acquire the land.

Earlier, two different Benches of the apex court had refused to hear the cross-appeals saying that one or the other judges had been linked to the adjudication of the issue before.

The State Government and the Anil Agarwal Foundation, which promotes the project, appealed against a decision of the Orissa High Court, which citing 17 reasons, held that the land acquisition procedures for the proposed Vedanta University project were il legal.

The High Court had also directed Vedanta to return the land to its various owners.

Appearing for one of over half-a-dozen petitioners against the project, counsel Prashant Bhushan contended that the State Government began acquiring land for the setting up of a world class university by a group, which does not have the experience of est ablishing even a primary school.

He also contended that the Land Acquisition Company Rules, 1963, had not been properly followed by the State Government.

The High Court had given its verdict on two public interest lawsuits and six individual petitions, challenging the State Government’s notification on the land acquisition procedures.

Another petitioner opposing the project contended that the proposed multi-disciplinary university project would cause extreme debilitating impact on the eco-system as well as the local bio-diversity. — PTI

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