Patnaik defends Vedanta varsity decision

Bhubaneswar, Nov 25 (IANS) Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Thursday defended in the state assembly his government’s decision to set up Vedanta University, being promoted by the London-based Vedanta group, and affirmed that nothing wrong has been done.

Unhappy with his reply, the opposition members staged a walked out.

‘The setting up a world class university in Orissa is most certainly in the larger public interest and his government had acted in a bonafide manner throughout the process,’ Patnaik told the assembly in response to an adjournment motion.

Patnaik said his government was doing a detailed study of the court judgment and examining various legal aspects.

‘The advocate general has been requested to advise the government on the subject, after which appropriate steps will be taken in accordance with law,’ he said.

The Orissa High Court earlier this month quashed the process of land acquisition for the proposed Vedanta University near the Konark-Puri marine drive, some 60 km from here. It directed the authorities to return the acquired land to their owners.

The university, proposed to be set up by the Anil Agarwal Foundation promoted by NRI industrialist and Britain-based Vedanta Resources chairman Anil Agarwal, was to come up on over 6,000 acres of land with a phased investment of Rs.150 billion ($3.5 billion).

The winter session of the assembly that began Tuesday has been witnessing noisy scenes with the opposition demanding resignation of the chief minister on moral grounds.

The opposition however allowed the house to conduct its normal business Wednesday after the Speaker Pradip Amat allowed a debate on the issue.

Responding to the questions raised by some opposition members during the debate, Patnaik also reiterated that as per the records available with the government, the foundation had satisfied all the norms for converting itself from a private to public company.

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