The Orissa High Court on Tuesday quashed the process of land acquisition for Vedanta University in Puri and directed the government to return the acquired land to its owners, a lawyer said. The division bench of Chief Justice V Gopal Gouda and Justice B P Das delivered their verdict in response to eight petitions, said Subir Palit, one of the lawyers for the petitioners.
“The court declared that the land acquisition notification for Vedanta University project is illegal and void. The court quashed the notification,” Palit said.
He said that the government had been directed to return the land to its owners.
The Anil Agarwal Foundation, promoted by NRI industrialist and chairman of Britain’s Vedanta Resources Anil Agarwal, was setting up the multi-disciplinary Vedanta University near the Konark-Puri marine drive.
The university was to come up in over 6,000 acres with a phased investment of Rs.150 billion ($3.5 billion). But the project faces considerable opposition from local residents.
Some people who lost their land had sought the intervention of the court describing land acquisition for the project as illegal.
“We have been opposing land acquisition since the beginning because it was illegal. Now the court has came to the rescue of people. The judgment is historical,” Umaballav Ratha, one of the petitioners, said.
No one from the Anil Agarwal Foundation or the state government was available for comment.
The union environment ministry had earlier refused clearance to Vedanta’s mining project in Orissa’s Niyamgiri hills.