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Biju statue likely to miss T2 date

- International flights ready for airport, not former CM’s 18-ft installation

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 24: The Centre has accorded the international status to Biju Patnaik Airport, but the state government is yet to provide an 18-foot statue of the legendary leader for installation at the airport square.

The new domestic terminal was inaugurated last year on March 5 on the birthday of Biju Patnaik. It started functioning from March 14. However, as far as the statue is concerned, nothing except the platform on which it will be placed is ready.

“We hope that by the time the actual operations begin at the international terminal (T2), the statue would be installed so that it can be unveiled along with the inauguration of the international terminal. We are in touch with the state government. The culture department officials say that the statue will be complete on time,” airport director Sharad Kumar told The Telegraph.

Basic formalities for the operation of the international terminal is complete and once the civil aviation ministry gives its nod, international flights will begin operations from here.

Interestingly, after the completion of the T1 last year, the culture department had come up with a statue of Biju babu. However, it was not installed because it was just about six feet high and did not do justice to his stature, literally. “We declined to install the statue because a person who has such a great contribution to the development of aviation deserves a bigger statue. Thereafter, it was decided that an 18-feet statue would be installed at the airport square,” a senior official of the Airports Authority of India said.

Director, culture, Sushil Kumar Das said: “Work on the statue is on in full swing and it will be ready by Utkal Divas, which falls on April 1. The process of floating tenders delayed the work.”

Interestingly, when The Telegraph reached the workshop in Ghatikia where the statue is being made, it found that a lot of work remained to be done.

“We will finish clay casting of the statue by February 25. After that, we will carry out the moulding with plaster of Paris, then conduct wax processing and finally, bronze casting. The whole process may take four months or more,” said the sculptor, who did not want to be named. He is now busy with the clay casting of the statue.

Once installed, it would be the tallest statue of Biju babu in the state.

“In fact, it will be the tallest statue of any state luminary. I am working on it after making a statue of Rajiv Gandhi at Rohtak of the same height,” said the sculptor.

He said once the wax moulding was complete, a team of traditional experts from Balakati will come to Ghatikia to carry out bronze casting in phases.