Maitreya Buddha project pulled out of Kushinagar, taken to Bodhgaya

The project was important for the state as it was expected to increase viability of the international airport project in Kushinagar

Having waited for nine years to get land for its Maitreya Buddha project, the International Matreya Foundation has decided to move the project, which included a grand, 500-feet high bronze-plated statue of the Maitreya Buddha as its centrepiece, from Kushinagar in UP to Bodhgaya in Bihar.

In an announcement on the project's official wesbite www.maitreyaproject.org, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the project's spiritual director, said: "For the last nine years, we have worked hard with the Uttar Pradesh government to locate the project in Kushinagar but because of very difficult issues regarding land acquisition — with the approval of His Holiness the Dalai Lama — we have now decided to build the Maitreya statue in Bodhgaya."

The Maitreya project was conceived in 2003 and Kushinagar, where Lord Buddha delivered his last sermon, was selected as its site. The project is managed by the Maitreya Project Trust. The 500-feet-high sitting Buddha statue was proposed to be a skyscraper housing a monastery, a library and other facilities like an audio-visual theatre, hospitality services, lush green parks and meditation pavillions.

A hospital and schools for the children from nearby villages were part of the project which was then estimated to cost $195 million. The state government had earmarked about 660 acre for the project, but after discussion with farmers, it came out that only about 260 acre will actually be available. However, the grand project was stalled as a large number of farmers refused to give their land at the rate of Rs 300 per square metre offered by the government. The SP government, which took over in March, however, started talks with farmers in July, offering compensation at the rate of Rs 940 per square metre, which was paid for the land acquired for the nearby Kushinagar airport project. Nevertheless, there was little headway. "We had started discussions with the farmers on compensation. Only 40 farmers accepted the offer and over 1,000 farmers had refused," said Rigzian Sampheal, District Magistrate of Kushinagar. Sampheal said the promoter of the project had not sent him any communication about cancelling the project in UP.

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