GUWAHATI, Oct 27 - The inaction of successive Assam governments in securing the heritage Sambalpur residence and office of Sahityarathi Lakshminath Bezbaroa for posterity has drawn flak from learned circles which termed it as a blatant dishonour to the doyen of Assamese literature.
Litterateur and former Asam Sahitya Sabha president Dr Nagen Saikia, while terming the residence as the last material memory of Bezbaroa, said that with its dismantling, Assam and its people would part with a heritage which could never be recreated.
�We will completely lose his physical memory and it will be an irreparable national loss for Assam. The present government must act before it is too late,� he said.
Another former Asam Sahitya Sabha president Dr Lakshmi Nandan Bora said that while the government was guilty of utter insensitivity to the noble cause, organisations like Asam Sahitya Sabha also failed to do the needful to preserve and maintain it.
�Our mass organisations, especially an apex literary body like the Sabha, should have been more proactive on the matter. The Sabha has been in the news for many wrong reasons of late. Why could not it ensure that the Bezbaroa heritage was acquired and preserved? But now with the property on the verge of being demolished by the Odisha government authorities, the Assam government must act immediately. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has to intervene personally,� he said.
Social activist and former Director of PPC, NE, Doordarshan, Deben Tamuly, who made a documentary on the Bezbaroa house, said that he had met former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi twice seeking his intervention for converting the complex into a heritage monument but failed to elicit any positive response.
�Gogoi was rather casual about the developments and naturally nothing materialized despite our repeated pleas. Had the State government really cared for this invaluable heritage, it could have easily acquired the property by paying the owner the price. It�s ironical that even the local people I had interacted with were aware of the Bezbaroa legacy and enthusiastic about preserving it,� he said. Tamuly added that he could not even get an appointment with present Chief Minister Sonowal to discuss the matter.
Bezbaroa, who stayed at Sambalpur for about two decades, was also its Municipal Board Chairman once, and his photo is still there at the municipality office.
The dilapidated condition of the entire campus also makes it evident that little care had been taken to protect the nearly-hundred-year-old structures from the vagaries of nature.
Commenting on the history of the campus, Deepak Panda, convener of the Sambalpur-based Bezbaroa Smrutee Sansad said that Bezbaroa visited Sambalpur several times before he started staying permanently at Sambalpur from 1917.
�After staying in rented accommodations, he constructed his own house at Kuchery Chowk (court square) in 1924 and moved in on April 19 the same year. There were three separate houses - the living house, the office block and the kitchen house (built separately at the rear of the living house),� he said.
Bezbaroa�s eldest daughter Aruna who inherited the property later sold it to a businessman Omkarmal Poddar. �The kitchen house collapsed in course of time and we now have the other two houses in a dilapidated condition. After Poddar, the Bezbaroa property was settled in the name of his son. A new bridge on the Mahanadi at the backside of the house is nearing completion, and for its approach road up to the bridge, the Odisha Revenue Department acquired the whole Bezbaroa complex. It has also taken step to clear it from the illegal occupants,� he said.
Panda urged the Assam government to act immediately, failing which the heritage would be lost forever. �If a heritage monument after Bezbaroa is developed, it would also facilitate greater literary and cultural exchanges between Assam and Odisha besides carrying forward the maestro�s legacy,� he added.