GUWAHATI, Sept 25 - Making a strong pitch for converting the abandoned Sambalpur (Odisha) residence of Sahityarathi Lakshminath Bezbaroa into a heritage memorial, Asam Sahitya Sabha president Dr Dhrubajyoti Borah today said that the literary legend�s workplace, where he had penned many a masterpiece, had the significance of a national heritage.
Dr Borah also urged the Assam Government to be proactive on the matter and to take it up with the Odisha Government at the earliest, as time was running out for the dilapidated building.
�It�s a heritage not just for Assam but for the entire nation. Bezbaroa, besides being a father figure in Assamese literature and language, is also one of the makers of modern Indian literature,� Dr Borah told The Assam Tribune.
The Assam Government had taken a formal decision on April 26, 2013 to acquire Bezbaroa�s Sambalpur residence for preserving it as a memorial. The then Assam Governor, JB Patnaik, had presided over that meeting at Raj Bhawan and directed the State Government to take immediate steps to buy or acquire the plot of land housing Bezbaroa�s residence. The meet had also decided that the Cultural Affairs Department, Government of Assam, should move a proposal for Rs 4 crore to be approved from the Contingency Fund for the purpose. Regrettably, the State Government then failed to exhibit the required dynamism, with the consequence that things have remained stagnant for over three years.
Recalling that Patnaik had facilitated a visit to Bezbaroa�s residence by a Sahitya Sabha delegation, Dr Borah said that the Governor had taken keen interest in the matter but his demise came as a dampener to the initiative.
Bezbaroa, revered as the most important figure of modern Assamese literature and credited with giving it a much-needed shape and direction, stayed at the town of Sambalpur for 20 years from 1917 and 1937. The period saw the master litterateur penning down the bulk of his works that have left an indelible imprint in Assamese literature.
Patnaik had also directed the Assam Government to buy or acquire the plot (M.S. Khata No.142 of Sambalpur town, Unit No.4) from the present owner, Nanda Kishore Poddar, within the month of May 2013.
�The Assam Government and the Odisha Government should work together in acquiring the plot and convert it into a heritage complex. Besides being a fitting tribute to the legend, the heritage site will also facilitate enhanced literary and cultural interaction between the two states which share many things in common,� Dr Borah said.
A long-pending court case has been hampering the efforts made by various quarters such as Sahitya Sabha, All Assam Students� Union (AASU), etc., in materialising the dream of raising a Bezbaroa memorial.
According to Deepak Panda, the writer of the book Sambalpur Sambalpur, Bezbaroa had given the property to his eldest daughter Aruna and subsequently, the property was handed over (probably sold) to Omkarmal Poddar. The matter went to the court in 1977, as the Odisha Government revoked the lease. The case has been in the High Court since 1985.
An AASU delegation that has been camping at Sambalpur, yesterday sought Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik�s intervention in reclaiming and preserving Bezbaroa�s residence and office that are located over a sprawling plot of two-and-a-half acres.
�Things can take a definite turn only if the Assam Government treats the matter with due seriousness and takes it up with its Odisha counterpart,� AASU vice president Pulak Chetia said.