Posts filed under ‘Vedanta Kalahandi University’
Vedanta is going to open a science college at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi to spread higher education among tribals. The Vedanta Science College will commence classes from the academic year 2011-12.
The company has identified five acres of land at Lanjigarh for the purpose. The architectural design of the college has been completed and construction activity will begin soon. The bhoomi puja for construction of the building was performed last month.
“The science college will fill the gap of quality science education in western Odisha. Besides education, it will also improve the human development index and leadership quality among youth,” said Prof Gopabandhu Behera, retired Professor of Chemistry of the Sambalpur University.
Most towns in interior western Odisha mostly have arts and commerce colleges, where job opportunities for students passing out are limited. The proposed college is expected to address the need for quality science education in the district of Kalahandi and will make the youth qualified enough to get ample job opportunities.
The first batch of students will be admitted on merit basis, with preference to local students. In the first batch, the college will enroll 64 students. “Vedanta Science College will integrate teaching, learning, and research for a holistic development of the students,” said President and Chief Operating Officer of Vedanta Aluminium Ltd, Lanjigarh Dr Mukesh Kumar.
The college will impart graduate level studies in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Zoology, Botany and Environment Science. The college will be managed by the DAV College Trust and Management Society, which is a premier education society and has already set up more than 100 colleges across the country. With the latest infrastructure, the college will provide facilities for sports, games and cultural facilities.
In Lanjigarh, the DAV College Trust and Management Society has set up an international school jointly with VAL which is giving access to quality English medium education to tribal students from Lanjigarh and around.
NOTE: Earlier it was also reported in the Dharitri that Vedanta should establish a full fledged University at Kalahandi.
Vedanta Resources Plc, battling criticism from environmental groups and some shareholders over plans to extract bauxite in India’s Niyamgiri mountains, said it may begin mining at the site as early as the end of the year.
“All is going well,” Vedanta Chief Executive Officer Mahendra Singh Mehta said in an interview in London. “It shouldn’t take more than three weeks for the government to decide” on approvals after it receives an environment ministry report scheduled for this month.
The mine, key to Vedanta’s plans to meet its targets to expand refining, has been delayed for more than four years as human rights and environmental groups raised concerns about pollution and the effects on the local tribal community. Vedanta on Feb. 9 said it “strongly” denied Amnesty International’s allegations that residents in the region have been displaced.
Some shareholders also protested against the company’s handling of the affair, with 12.8 percent voting against the remuneration report at the July 28 annual general meeting. Aviva Investors, the fund unit of the U.K.’s second-largest insurer, said it would vote against three resolutions.
Environmental and human-rights protesters gathered outside the meeting, some shouting, “Vedanta, Vedanta out” and others painted blue, like characters from the movie “Avatar” about an alien tribe’s battle to save its planet from a corporation determined to strip its raw materials.
Dutch pension fund PGGM said on July 7 it sold 13 million euros ($17 million) of Vedanta stock and the Church of England offloaded its shares in February.
“Certain NGOs complain that the consultation isn’t complete and human rights issues are raised,” Mehta said. “The fact is that the project has undergone a very vigorous consultation process. We are very positive; it’s taking longer time, no problem. We are in the final approval stage.”
India formed a panel to investigate the potential effect of mining on tribes and wildlife in Orissa, reviewing earlier reports on use of forest land, the Ministry of Environment and Forests said June 30. It would offer findings within 30 days.
“There is no habitation on and near the proposed mining area,” Mehta said. “They are reviewing it once again so nothing is left out.” The hills around the site are about 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) high and nobody lives in the area because there aren’t any bodies of water or vegetation, he said.
Vedanta plans to transfer bauxite from the mine to its alumina refinery, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the hills, through a pipeline, Mehta said in an interview on July 28. Aluminum is made from alumina refined from bauxite.
“Laying a conveyor from the mine to the refinery will take about 3-6 months,” Mehta said. “Normally the bauxite transportation is done by trucks, which creates pollution; this is a very environment-friendly way.”
Bauxite in the hills, totaling about 80 million metric tons, is 1 or 2 meters from the surface and the “best in its class in the world,” he said. “You just scrape the surface, no blasting is needed. It could be converted to alumina at a cost far lesser than any of the bauxites in the world.”
Vedanta today reported record first-quarter earnings before income, tax, depreciation and amortization, which more than doubled to $793.9 million from $354.7 million a year earlier.
Anil Agarwal’s projects in Orissa seem to be running into rough weather. His Niyamgiri Hills mining project has received a fresh blow with the Attorney General endorsing the environment ministry’s powers to not give clearance to the project. Agarwal’s other project in Orissa — Vedanta University — seems to be going nowhere. It appears it would take years before the first brick is laid on his most ambitious, and grandest, education project.
Agarwal, founder of London-based Vedanta Group, turned heads in 2006 when he said he would set up an 8,000-acre, $3-billion university under the aegis of Vedanta Foundation (which later changed its name to Anil Agarwal Foundation or AAF) in the state’s coastal town of Puri. He also offered $1 billion from his personal funds. Agarwal’s holding in his companies is worth more than $10 billion (as on 31 March 2010).
However, as with most projects requiring land acquisition, the university project, too, got mired in controversy. On 17 March, Orissa Lok Pal Justice P.K. Patra recommended a vigilance probe against AAF’s land deals. In May, the environment and forests ministry withheld clearance for the university, citing “irregularities, illegal, unethical and unlawful deeds”.
With the odds stacked against it, AAF is weighing other options. “Two states have extended an invitation; a decision is likely to be taken on a new site in two months,” says Ajit Kumar Samal, in-charge of the university project. He, however, refuses to divulge more details. Experts say the alternatives to Orissa could be Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, which have good educational infrastructure. “Any place near Hyderabad or Chennai would be a good location,” says Narayanan Ramaswamy, head of education practice at consultancy firm KPMG.
The more important question, though, is: is a large university of this kind feasible in India?
Vedanta’s justification for requiring so much land is simple — to build an institution on the lines of Stanford and Harvard. The 8,180-acre Stanford University was established in 1891. Harvard, set up in 1636, is the oldest institution of higher learning in the US, and has about 5,000 acres. But both were set up when land was not a precious commodity. Besides, the US is a far bigger country than India, and can afford to have universities of such scale.
For a densely-populated country like India, 8,000 acres of contiguous land — later scaled down to 6,000 acres — for a university is hugely ambitious. Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, for instance, has only 1,000 acres. Large universities like Hyderabad Central University and Banaras Hindu University have 2,300 acres and 1,300 acres, respectively. Utkal University, Orissa’s largest, functions in 400 acres.
“In today’s age of high-speed broadband communication, there is no need to be hell-bent on geographical proximity,” says Ramaswamy. The entire knowledge city in Dubai, which houses 30 universities and 450 business partners catering to over 40,000 students, functions well within about 575 acres of land.
Samal doesn’t agree, though. “The architecture is prepared keeping in mind the topography of the place. In Puri, there are no high-rise buildings and hence a ‘horizontal’ plan.”
But now, with Vedanta talking about other states’ interest in the university project, what happens to the 4,000 acres already acquired for it by the Orissa government?
AAF doesn’t seem to have given it much thought. Developing this as an off-campus could be an option. But locals say the land acquisition is just on paper and “the land will continue to belong to those who reside on it now”. Samal says that AAF has spent Rs 100 crore on land acquisition so far. For 4,000 acres, that works out to Rs 2.5 lakh per acre, among the cheapest rates in India. The area is strategically located between Puri and Konark on the sea coast.
Others, too, have got land at cheap rates in Orissa for educational institutes. Harivansh Chaturvedi, director of Greater Noida’s Birla Institute of Management Technology (Bimtech), says that Orissa had offered land at Rs 7 lakh per acre in 2001; Bimtech bought 30 acres for Rs 2.20 crore. Haryana had offered 7 acres for Rs 17 crore. In 1985, Xavier Institute of Management was given 20 acres with a building at Bhubaneswar for free. The institute, in turn, reserves 50 per cent seats for local students.
AAF’s other option is to monetise the real estate by coaxing technology giants such as IBM, Wipro, TCS and Infosys to set up research facilities in the campus. It also wants to invite venture capitalists to fund start-ups doing research projects and develop this as a hub of innovation, in much the same way as Stanford does.
However, this won’t be easy. According to Praveen Bhagdada, manager at Bangalore-based Zinnov Management Consulting, technology companies weigh the pros and cons of an institute before signing up with it. “It is early days yet,” says an executive with a top IT firm.
Companies such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Motorola, Mitsubishi and Lockheed Martin are located in the Stanford Industrial Park. Blue-chip companies such as Silicon Graphics, Sun Microsystems and Cisco had begun as ideas in the university’s computer science department.
Agarwal would be hoping for a similar miracle in India. Whether that will happen in Orissa or somewhere else, or whether it will happen at all, is a billion-dollar question.
shalini dot sharma at abp dot in (This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 02-08-2010)
New Delhi, May 11 (IANS) The environment ministry Tuesday put on hold construction of the Rs.150 billion Vedanta University in Orissa by the Anil Agarwal Foundation following complaints of irregularities.
The ministry said it had received information alleging irregularities and “illegal, unethical and unlawful deeds” by the foundation.
It said serious objections raised during the Orissa Coastal Zone Management Authority meeting were not appropriately considered while granting coastal regulation zone (CRZ) and environmental clearances.
“The above issues are relevant and important and predict a detailed examination. I have been directed to inform you that the environmental and CRZ clearances issued on April 16, 2010 shall be kept in abeyance till a final decision in the matter is taken by the ministry,” said Bharat Bhushan, director in the ministry, in a letter to the foundation.
The ministry asked the company not to proceed with any construction or development works till a detailed examination of all the issues raised are examined by its Expert Appraisal Committee.
The Anil Agarwal foundation is promoted by NRI billionaire and chairman of Vedanta Resources, Anil Agarwal.
It has proposed to set up the multi-disciplinary Vedanta University over 6,000 acres of land near the Konark-Puri marine drive, some 60 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar.
This not-for-profit university has been envisaged as one-of-its-kind institution for quality higher education and cutting-edge research in 95 disciplines for 100,000 students.
Following letter was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org:
When an incredible and elegant solution stares you in your face, you have to be completely dysfunctional and utterly intellectually challenged not to take it. Yet this is the current situation about location of Vedanta University. Locating the university in the vicinity of Lanjigarh solves several problems at one stroke, yet sixty milers want to locate it near Puri. Incredible.
It will be good,very good, for the entire KBK region,particularly for the large number of Adivashis will sacrifice not only their home and hearth, but their way of life. They being largely illiterate and possessing no marketable skills, they will be disoriented and will have insurmountable difficulties to carve out a new life with the few rupees they will get in exchange for their habitat. With an institution of the size proposed, there will be good job opportunities. Hopefully the institution will spawn a variety of ancillary industries, and other institutions which can give them good chance of a good alternate livelihood.
KBK has been a sink hole where various large scale attempts that have been made to rehabilitate into a healthy society have just been failures and the vast amount of money simply disappears. Vedant University will be strong and reliable anchor in the community which will automatically attract various infrastructures which the entire region so desperately needs. A critical mass of literate and sophisticated population will develop because of adjacent Central University in Koraput, and thus a new nucleus of educational excellence will be generated. And some day, the kids of those displaced Adivashis may be managers of Vedanta and other institutions. And civil servants who find all kinds of excuses not to be located,they will eagerly compete to be there.
Vedanta will benefit tremendously because its image of a ruthless destroyer of habitat of disadvantaged populace and mindless destroyer of environment; that image will change into a benevolent philanthropist and builder of healthy society. Mind you, it still has to be a good caretaker of the environment and has to actively engage to protect the sensitive ecology of the region. My feeling is that the local populace will actively cooperate with Vedanta to see that Vedanta becomes a successful profitable venture at the same time jointly engage in protecting the ecology.
The unnecessary confrontation between Vedanta on one side and environmentalists and displaced Adivashis can be avoided. Vedanta will emerge as a hero, and can serve as a role model for other mining enterprises. At the same time it will avoid confrontation with Puri-ites regarding land accumulation for building the university.
It will also be great for Orissa government. Many from Koshala or Western Orissa including me are very critical of Orissa government for over concentrating practically most human resource development activities in the vicinity of Bhubaneswar leaving rest of Orissa largely untouched. Location of Vedanta University in Kalahandi will be first good step to address the inequity, and hopefully this will be followed by similar gestures throughout Orissa away from the sixty mile strip. Location of Vedanta University will cost the government nothing. Cash strapped Orissa government has not been able to manage adequately the institutions of higher learning. Now it can focus in strengthening the existing ones. And the long neglected huge population of Adivashis,who are literally dying because the government has put their horrendous problems under the carpet, will have some ray of hope of good future.
Some argue that the decision of location of Vedanta university in Puri was the decision of Vedanta not Orissa government. But is the Orissa government is so weak that major educational development is surrendered to a industrial house ? With such a majority in the Orissa assembly, one would think that the government is full control of what happens in the state.
Therefore only conclusion one can derive from such decision is that Navin’s government is simply a regionalistic one dominated by self-centered “academics” and “intelligentsia” with no vision of overall development of Orissa; and this really the way they want. These self centered folks are not interested in reduction of inter-regional disparity, or are interested in rational solutions of the problems. They are simply engaged in rationalisation of the decisions which irrational in essence.
So do you think that wisdom will prevail, and Vedanta University will be located in Kalahandi after all ? Do not hold your breath. The change of status of dysfunctional to functional is not in the cards.
Professor Arjun Purohit,Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Vedanta University project gets environmental clearance from union ministry of environment and forests (MOEF)
Bhubaneswar, April 17 (IANS) The Rs.150 billion Vedanta University project in Orissa by the Anil Agarwal foundation has got environmental and coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearances from the central government, a project spokesman said Saturday.
‘The union ministry of environment and forests (MOEF) has granted the environment and CRZ clearances to the Vedanta University project,’ Sasanka Patnaik told IANS.
‘We received the letter from the ministry today (Saturday),’ he said.
The Anil Agarwal foundation is promoted by NRI billionaire and chairman of Britain’s Vedanta Resources Anil Agarwal.
It has proposed to set up a multi-disciplinary Vedanta University over 6,000 acres of land near the Konark-Puri marine drive, some 60 km from here.
This not-for-profit university, being built on a global scale, has been envisaged as one-of-its-kind institution for quality higher education and cutting-edge research facility in 95 academic disciplines for 100,000 students.