The Maitreya Project is an international organisation, operating since 1990, set up to construct a 152 metre (500 ft) statue of the Maitreya Buddha, in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, along with education and healthcare facilities for the local population. The initial design brief for the statue included a specification for the statue to last for 1,000 years; however this is no longer an aim of the project.
The project scope has since changed, and the Maitreya Project will now construct a 45 metre (150 ft) statue of the Maitreya Buddha, in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India, rather than the larger statue previously planned.
The project was initiated by the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, an organisation within the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Project reports for 1990–2008 outgoings of more than US$20 million and investment of more than US$11 million.
Nita Ing has taken over responsibility for the funding of the statue in Bodhgaya.
There has been criticism in the press about some aspects of the Project, including the compulsory acquisition, under "India's Land Acquisition Act", by the State Government of 660 acres (2.7 km2) of private land, homes and small farms; which are intended to be leased to the Project, for construction of the statue and related infrastructure, including "landscaped park housing a cathedral, monastery, convent, guesthouse, library and food halls...". Peter Kedge, Director and CEO of the Maitreya Project has posted a number of replies to these criticisms.
Following the 1,262nd day of "peaceful dharna", in August 2010, by the majority of local farmers against the compulsory acquisition of their farms, the Cabinet Secretary of Uttar Pradesh announced a reconsideration of support for the Project.
The project was stalled when farmers and the local administration failed to come to a consensus over the price of land. While the UP government had agreed to pay Rs 710 per square metre, the farmers were asking for Rs 1,500 per square metre. The disagreement despite efforts from the state tourism department compelled the Maitreya Project Trust to walk out of UP. Sources said that the trust wrote to UP government in this regard in March 2012. However, the new government asked for a second chance. As a result, a fresh round of negotiations began. THE PROJECT : After Bamiyan Buddhas were demolished in Afghanistan, BJP government in UP announced setting up the tallest Buddha statue under Maitreya project in Kushinagar, where Buddha gave his last sermon and attained salvation. Announced on May 1, 2003, project had been hit hard by farmers' protest over land acquisition and low rate of compensation since then. Spread over 268 acre, project includes construction of 200 feet tall bronze statue of Buddha along with educational institution, meditation pavilion, parks and free medical facility unit.
Akhilesh lays stone for tallest bronze Buddha statue Italic text 10-years-long wait comes to an end.Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mr. Akhilesh Yadav laid foundation stone for the multi-crore Maitreya Project for the construction of the world's tallest bronze Lord Buddha statue in Kushinagar district on 13 Dec 2013Á. Brushing aside controversies over land acquisition and funding, Akhilesh said the project "would lead to social, economic and cultural prosperity of the state". He promised that farmers would be "adequately compensated" for the 202 acres of land acquired for the project, which would house the 200-feet statue along with educational institutes, a free medical facility and parks. Akhilesh said, "The construction work will be undertaken by the Maitreya Project Trust. A sum of Rs 400 crore would be spent in the initial stage of the construction. Though 202 acres of land has been acquired for the project, the rest will be taken with the consent of farmers."
MOVING OUT OF THE PROJECT: In Nov 2012, Maitreya project's spiritual director, Lama Zopa Rinpoche said that due to long delay, the project was being shifted to Bodhgaya. GOVT WAKES UP: State government said it would complete acquisition by January 15, 2013. A farmer, in the menatime, filed a petition in the high court urging it to direct Kushinagar admnistration to give him the compensation against his land as soon as possible. The court's order which directed DM to ensure that the compensation was paid within two months changed things. More farmers came in, government said the farmers have realized that project will bring development to the region. NO FORCIBLE ACQUISITION OF LAND: In August 2012, state government agreed to pay Rs 945 per square meter as demanded by farmers. COURT STAY: Government had proposed to inaugurate the project on May 25 this year but it was postponed in view of the Allahabad high court staying the land acquisition proceedings in Kushinagar. The petitioners included farmers from Kushinagar who had been opposing the move to acquire their land for the project. The notification for acquisition of around 660 acres of land in Kushinagar for the project was first issued in 2004 and the subsequent notification was issued in 2005. ACQUISITION AND COMPENSATIONItalic text: The government has, so far, acquired about 202 acre land for the project and Rs 64 crore has been given as compensation.
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