The people of Assam should be grateful to Odisha Chief Minister vin Patik for so readily agreeing to preserve the old house and office of Laksmith Bezbaroa at Sambalpur as a heritage residence. There are at least two good reasons to be grateful. First, Lakshimath Bezbaroa is not as great a me in Odisha as it is in Assam. Had it been so, the Odisha government would not have planned to have a highway running through the site where Lakshmith Bezbaroa’s house is located as well as a rotary to have been med after Nelson Mandela there. Instead, the Odisha government would have decided on its own to preserve the house as a heritage site. Second, The request of Assam Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal not to demolish Lakshimanth Bezbaroa’s was made at a time when the Odisha government had already decided to put up the Nelson Mandela Chowk at the place and the people of the State had expected a few welcome changes in road transport conditions. And based on these changes, businessmen and entrepreneurs of Odisha must have made certain plans for facilities to be set up at and around the Nelson Mandela Chowk. The Chief Minister of Odisha has been more gracious than one might have expected in such circumstances. After all, one cannot ignore the fact that Lakshmith Bezbaroah’s house has been there in a dilapidated state for decades without any of the previous governments of our State having done anything to preserve it or to even inform the Odisha government that it would like the house and office of the great writer to be preserved as a heritage site. To its great discredit, the Assam government had done nothing to preserve the house in the state of repair and upkeep that such a site deserved. What is sought to be preserved as a heritage site is in such a deplorable condition that its present appearance would raise questions in the minds of people as to why such a dilapidated house should be given the recognition of a heritage site if no one had deemed it necessary even to have it repaired in all these years. One can also raise pertinent questions about the need to send such a large delegation to meet the Odisha Chief Minister over a matter neglected for years, when a small group of three or four persons would have sufficed. There is a certain dignity and decorum associated with such initiatives that seems to have been completely missing in the case of Lakshmith Bezbaroa’s house at Sambalpur. How can people in Odisha be expected to believe that Lakshmith Bezbaroa is held in such high esteem in Assam when the government and the people of Assam did nothing about his house at Sambalpur for all these years and woke up only when the house was due to be demolished?
Be that as it may, it is heartening to read newspaper reports that the Collector and District Magistrate of Sambalpur has assured the delegates from Assam that both the house and the office and office of Lakshimath Bezbaroa will be preserved, and that necessary modifications to the layout plan of the highway and the rotary will be considered by the PWD (R&B) authorities. At the meeting of the delegates with the Collector and District Magistrate of Sambalpur, it was also resolved that joint efforts would be taken up by both the Odisha and Assam governments for the preservation of the existing buildings and their development. The matter was also taken up with the Chief Minister of Odisha when the delegation met him. What remains to be done now is to ensure that Lakshmith Bezbaroa’s house is repaired and restored to a condition that would justify the very belated efforts to give it the status of a heritage residence.