Maitreya Project Update, January 2005
The purpose of Maitreya Project is to bring as much benefit to as many as possible, for as long as possible - spiritually, in education and healthcare, and indirectly, through the creation of employment opportunities.
The name Maitreya comes from the Sanskrit word 'maitri' meaning 'love'. The form of Maitreya represents the embodiment of loving-kindness.
Dear Maitreya Project Friends,
I am pleased to send you the latest in our series of updates about Maitreya Project. As I hope to convey below, we now have a project which by any international standards is enormous.
Although from the outside progress may appear to be a little slow, to plan for and execute such a major undertaking requires a great deal of time before actual construction can begin. We do our best to make time-line projections but the process of working with both state and central government offices in India and undertaking all the required legal and administrative processes is somewhat unpredictable and very time consuming. However, we are happy to carry out this important phase of the work since what is taking place will enable Maitreya Project to be even more effective than what was first envisioned.
We have a small and dedicated international team of really wonderful people providing support in many ways. In India we enjoy goodwill and real support from many directions, including from people who are not even Buddhist.
Current Status of the Project
The great news is that a number of groups have undertaken to provide major funding to cover construction. To date we have firm commitments to cover at least 50% of the total cost of the Project. Understandably, these funds will become available once the Kushinagar land is fully under the Projects control, which is expected later this year.
As reported previously, a comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding was signed, on May 9th 2003, by Maitreya Project Trust and the Government of Uttar Pradesh. Since then, Maitreya Project in India has been working closely with the State Government of Uttar Pradesh to set up the legal bodies that were envisioned in the joint Memorandum of Understanding.
It is not just that Maitreya Project will have 750 acres (300 hectares) of land for the 500-ft/152-m statue project. The Memorandum envisions an area described by approximately a 7.5 kilometer radius around the Maitreya site. This area has been designated by the Uttar Pradesh Government as the Kushinagar Special Development Area.
Maitreya Project has been meeting regularly, on a scheduled basis, with the appropriate departments within the Uttar Pradesh State Government, together with advisors and consultants from within India and overseas, to devise a comprehensive master plan for the appropriate development of the entire region. To achieve this, municipal bylaws and planning regulations are being drafted and agreed upon. Enactment of these will be a major milestone in setting the context within which the Project will be constructed.
The Area will be administered by the newly created Kushinagar Special Development Area Authority. The Kushinagar Special Development Area Authority will be overseen by another newly created body, the Kushinagar Regional Commission. These bodies have effect in law and Maitreya Project has representation on these bodies.
The rationale for such broad plans is that without a robust and comprehensive planning context it would not be responsible for Maitreya Project to simply build the Project in rural India. It is hoped this will ensure that appropriate and planned development can take place as the impact of the Maitreya Project becomes felt. It is within this special region that Maitreya Project will implement its extensive healthcare and education projects.
Such an arrangement is unique in Uttar Pradesh and the implementation of the mechanisms for such widespread administrative and municipal management is very time consuming, but in the long run it will be greatly beneficial.
In the meantime, Maitreya Project is undertaking to set up healthcare facilities in the Kushinagar. The Project is also recruiting teachers from the Kushinagar area for training at the Maitreya Project Universal Education School in Bodhgaya. Subsequently, they will be able to lead the development of similar schools in the Kushinagar Special Development Area.
The Maitreya Project Universal Education School in Bodhgaya, Bihar, is incredibly successful and continues to flourish and expand. Again this year, we have the very difficult task of selecting 25 children from over 1,000 that have applied for our new kindergarten class in 2005. The selection process will be worked through in January and the new children will be admitted early in February. This school provides the model upon which the entire education programme is planned for Bihar and the Kushinagar Special Development Area.
The Development Process
Since moving to Kushinagar, the Project has grown significantly in physical size as well in complexity and is now integrated into the administrative structure of the State of Uttar Pradesh.
Whilst preliminary plans for the site exist, other site studies will be undertaken once the legal processes have been completed and the land is operationally under the control of Maitreya Project. Consequently, the next major milestone will be moving onto the land.
Once Maitreya Project has established itself on the site, development will begin. Initially this will involve construction of the sites infrastructure, such as the roads and buildings that will be used during the construction of the statue.
Itwill beat least two years before foundation work can begin. From the start of foundations to completion, we expect the construction to take around three years.
I will send you further updates, at intervals throughout the year, to keep you in touch with the development of this incredible project. Meanwhile, please contact us if you require any other information.
With many thanks again for your support of Maitreya Project.
Director, Maitreya Project