MAC: Mines and Communities

India: violence alleged in promotion of Vedanta's super seat of learning

Published by MAC on 2009-10-26

At the end of July 2009, Anil Agarwal, the executive chairman of Vedanta Resources plc, received state permission to proceed with construction of a "global seat of learning" in Orissa, India.

This was despite grave fears that the eponymous Vedanta University would uproot hundreds of villagers and degrade scarce water sources. See:

Last week, a local protest group stepped-up its campaign against the project, accusing police of "unleashing terror" against opponents.

Land grab: VVVSS plans to intensify stir

Statesman News Service

21 October 2009

BHUBANESWAR: The Vedanta Vishwavidyalaya Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti (VVVSS) has decided to intensify its opposition against the land acquisition and displacement of hundreds of people for establishment of the Vedanta University.

Plans are afoot by the Samiti to hold a massive gathering at Beldal tomorrow, which is expected to deliberate mainly on its future course of action and how to deal with use of muscle power, in particular.

"After resisting the varsity project for more than three years and four months peacefully and in most democratic manner we now confront the hired goons, who are engaged in expediting the project work by means of threat and violence," said Mr Uma Ballav Rath, the chief advisor of VVVSS.

The former MLA also renewed the pledge to oppose the project work while alleging that the goons, who have unleashed terror and violence for more than two months, enjoy patronage and support of certain ruling party leaders.

Criticising the police for turning a blind eye on the terror tactics used to intimidate villagers, Mr Rath alleged police is acting at the behest of vested interest groups. Prominent anti-land acquisition leaders maintained that under no circumstances, the people's resistance will succumb to latest tactics like use of force for expediting the project work.

The VVVSS also urged upon the police administration to sort out the conflict between Samgara and Gopalpur village under 22-Mouza in Puri Sadar.

Meanwhile, social activist Mr Bishnu Prasad Mishra, who had filed a PIL in Orissa High Court against the land acquisition for the varsity project, has appealed to the district collector to take steps for maintenance of law and order in the violence-affected project area and ensure a terror-free environment for peaceful coexistence of people there.

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