As govt fast-tracks land acquisition, Maitreya says project still in UP

Following reports that International Maitreya Foundation has decided to shift the Maitreya Buddha project from Kushinagar to Bodhgaya in Bihar, UP Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani on Tuesday directed the Kushinagar district administration to complete the acquisition of land for the project by January 15.

The Chief Secretary reviewed the status of the project with the officials of Department of Culture, Housing and Urban Planning and representatives of the Maitreya Project Trust.

Sources said Usmani asked the two representatives of the trust, P K Tiwari and Atul Chopra, about the trust's decision to shift the project to Bihar. They said the trust representatives denied that any such decision had been taken and that it was a separate, smaller project which would be developed in Bodhgaya.

The Chief Secretary also asked the trust representatives to give a timeline for beginning work at site after completion of land acquisition. "The representatives assured that work will start within a week after the land was handed over to the trust," said an official present at the meeting.

Sources said the Chief Secretary directed the Housing and Urban Planning Department for changing the use of a piece of green land in Kushinagar's master plan to facilitate the project. The department will seek a proposal from the Kushinagar Special Area Development Authority to make that change.

Usmani also sought an outline of the project as well as structure of Maitreya Project Trust from its representatives. Trust representative P K Tiwari told The Indian Express: "The detailed structure of the trust would be provided to the government within a week. The outline of the project will be provided when the government will complete the land acquisition."

According to sources, the Chief Secretary said that the project was important for development of tourism and culture in Kushinagar. He directed the Kushinagar district administration to ensure immediate distribution of compensation to the farmers for their land.

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