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Maitreya Project Update, November 2007

The Maitreya Project

Maitreya Project's vision includes schools that focus on ethical and spiritual development as well as academic achievement, and a healthcare network based around a teaching hospital of international standard. These will provide education and healthcare, particularly for the poor and underprivileged.

By providing long-term employment, and improving the region’s infrastructure and access to India’s Buddhist Pilgrimage Route – while at the same time providing education and healthcare – the community will naturally evolve in a sustainable way.

It is this view to creating whole-community sustainability and long-term benefit that distinguishes Maitreya Project from many other humanitarian endeavors.

The Maitreya Buddha statue is being designed to last for at least 1,000 years. This enduring monument to loving-kindness and peace will effect positive change within the hearts and minds of people all over the world and provide a focus for the Project’s social work.

As Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Spiritual Director of Maitreya Project, says,  "Construction of the statue is not the goal – it is the method for achieving the goal. The goal is to benefit as many people as possible for as long as possible."

Following September's Update, readers have asked for more details about the land acquisition. That information is included in this, our Latest Update.

The State Government of Uttar Pradesh is acquiring 660.57 acres of land in Kushinagar. The intention is that the land being purchased, along with nearly 90 acres already owned by the Government, will be leased to the Maitreya Project.

The Government’s records show that the land to be purchased is made up of 1,114 small plots, of which 984 are less than 1 acre in size.

As explained previously, India's Land Acquisition Act requires a 2-payment system of compensation. It is general practice in India that a low rate is declared at the time of the first payment. The first payment is essentially a deposit.

The next step is that the Government thoroughly examines each plot individually to determine the total value of the land and the amenities and resources on it. This process involves several governmental departments:

Once all this data is collected, only then can the final award for each landowner be declared.

Even though it is known that the amount of the second payment will be significantly larger than the first, the Government is still in the process of calculating the second payments.

To date, around 20% of the landowners have accepted the first payment, but the majority have not. We feel this is understandable, and that the majority are unlikely to accept a proposal until they know the final value to be placed on their land.

The proposed site was selected by the State Government after consultation with local people, specifically because it was relatively free of dwellings, and included a high percentage (approximately 40%) of unproductive land. However, 48 houses will need to be relocated if the land purchase is concluded as planned. These 48 households will therefore require the support of resettlement in addition to compensation for their land.

Compulsory land purchases are always highly emotive, whether they take place in the US, the UK, India, or elsewhere.  Even though the Government of UP will own the land, Maitreya Project is well aware of its related ethical responsibility.

We have insisted from the beginning that the Government should meet with local leaders to work out agreeable settlements. We will support this process and are ready to attend meetings with all stakeholders: government, local civic groups and landowners whenever and wherever they are scheduled.

Maitreya Project has been assured by the State Government of UP that a very generous compensation package is being reserved for this acquisition and that those households requiring relocation will receive full and suitable support. It is understood that the State Government is planning the final compensation levels to be much higher than other recent acquisitions in even urban areas of the state — significantly above recent replacement purchase price levels in the area.

Some people have questioned whether the Government’s promises will come to fruition. The Project’s bottom line of control is that it will not proceed to lease the land offered by the Government of UP unless and until a full, fair, and agreeable settlement is reached with all stakeholders.

However, keeping in mind the long-term, sustainable benefits Maitreya Project will bring to the local community, the Project remains dedicated in its attempt to locate at Kushinagar, and at present we have every faith that the land purchase will be achieved to the satisfaction of all parties.

For more information about how Maitreya Project is structured and operates, how much funding has been received and how it has been spent since the beginning of Project records in 1990 to the end of December 2008, please click on these links:

With many thanks for your kind interest in the Maitreya Project,

Peter Kedge
Director and CEO
Maitreya Project International