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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 smaller statue in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, as well as a 45 metre (150 ft) statue of the Maitreya Buddha, in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India.
The project was initiated by the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, an organisation within the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. The Maitreya Project and the UP State Government have worked together to create a comprehensive plan for development of the area surrounding the Project, which is administered by the Kushinagar Special Area Development Authority.
Laying of the foundation stone in Kushinagar
On Friday 13th December 2013 the State Government of Uttar Pradesh handed over approximately 275 acres (111 ha) of land for the site of the Maitreya Project in Kushinagar. The land is immediately adjacent to the Parinirvana Temple denoting the place where Buddha Shakyamuni passed into Parinirvana, and the Rambhar Stupa which marks the holy site of Buddha’s cremation.
On that same day, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Akhilesh Yadav, presided over a foundation stone laying ceremony on this land. Maitreya Project's Spiritual Director, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and the Board of Trustees of the Maitreya Project Trust attended as state guests.  
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.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Maitreya Project.|
- Maitreya Project website
- Videos posted on YouTube by Maitreya Project
- BBC Documentary
- Pepper, Daniel Giant Buddha's tough love will drive out poor The Scotsman, September 9, 2007 on The Buddhist Channel
- Aros Architects Kushingar Masterplan with location map and simulated aerial view
- Fearing unrest, UP govt scales down Maitreya Buddha project Indian Express, Thu May 26, 2011.