After long debate spanning over three days, the Orissa Legislative Assembly today passed the Vedanta University Bill, 2009. There was clause by clause discussion on the bill before it was passed in the house.
The bill envisages setting up of a world class university by the Anil Agarwal Foundation at an investment of about Rs 15,000 crore in the Puri-Konark marine drive.
The admissions to the university will be on merit basis. Though there is no reservation in admission and recruitment for the Orissa students, the university authorities will set up knowledge centres in different regions of the state for development of higher education in these areas.
Similarly, there will be concession in the fee structure for the weaker section, scheduled caste, scheduled tribe students of the state. The governing body of the university will comprise of 16 members. They will include two MLAs, one lady from SC or ST community and two nominated members of the government who includes the higher education secretary and an eminent educationist of the state.
If the university authorities choose to close down the institution, they will have to give notice for it three years in advance.
In that case, the land acquired for the university from the local people, government and the Lord Jagannath temple will revert back to the original title holders. The land will be transferred to them at the price at which the land was acquired. It may be noted, the project will require 6000 acres of land.
The multi-disciplinary university based on a self finance model will have a student in take of one lakh and 20,000 faculty when fully operational. The Centres of Excellence for research and instruction proposed under the university will include bio-technology, nano-technology, health sciences, pharmaceutical research, crop genetics, alternative energy sources, rural economics, public policy, marine studies, engineering and design research.
Besides, the Anil Agarwal Foundation will set up a medical college with a state of art hospital. Earlier the Bill was strongly opposed by the opposition legislators led by Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan who questioned the rationale of the state government in handing over a huge chunk of land to an organisation which has no prior experience in setting up an educational institution. They also criticized the government for handling over the Jagannath Temple land to the Vedanta group at throw away prices.
Meanwhile, the ICFAI University Bill, which was also tabled in the house, was referred to a select committee of the state assembly.