UP wakes up after Buddha project ‘shifts’ to Bihar

"Since the petitioners in that case will be given compensation at the rate of Rs 945 per square metre, the other farmers will also receive compensation at the same rate," said Manoj Kumar Singh, Secretary of Culture and Tourism.

He said the promoters of Maitreya had sent no communication to the government regarding any plan to move the project from Kushinagar. "As soon as the land acquisition is completed, the International Maitreya Foundation will be informed," Singh said.

However, a group is unwilling to part with their land and are reportedly holding a dharna in Kushinagar under the banner of Bhumi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti. Samiti leader Govardhan Gaur claimed "around 85 per cent farmers" did not want to give their land at any cost and the "administration is misguiding the media".

Earlier this month, the Maitreya project's spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche had announced on the project's website: "For the past nine years, we have worked hard with UP 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."

However, Pradyotam Kumar Tiwari, who claims to be the local representative of International Maitreya Foundation in Gorakhpur, said, "The foundation has so far not taken any final decision to move the project from Kushinagar."

He claimed the "Bodhgaya project has no relation with the Kushinagar project''. Tiwari said the government had in May assured the foundation authorities that it would hand over the land by December.

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