No place to house Dasia Aja

10ft statue of library pioneer lies in junk

By ANWESHA AMBALY in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 4.06.16
(Clockwise from top) The statue of Dasarathi Patnaik lies on the premises of the State Museum, the statue being shifted to its present location at the backyard of the culture department in Bhubaneswar. It joined two other statues that have met the same fate . Pictures by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar, June 3: Wrapped in a blue plastic, a 10-foot-tall statue of Dasarathi Patnaik, celebrated as the father of the library movement in Odisha, is lying like a piece of junk in the backyard of the culture department.

In the late '50s, when education for all was still a far cry, Patnaik, better known as Dasia Aja, had single-handedly set up a library in the little known village of Udaypur in Nayagarh district. Patnaik died in 1997 at the age of 90.

After lying in the backyard of the state museum for over a year, the statue was shifted to the culture department's backyard on Wednesday with authorities still unable to find a suitable site for it.

Sources said that a renowned sculptor from Andhra Pradesh had built the statue a year ago.

Deepak Dhal, a local tourist guide, said: "I often come to the museum with visitors and a statue of a man of such a great stature lying in this condition paints a bad picture of our state."

Dasia Aja established the Banchhanidhi Pathagar in Nayagarh in 1959 that houses over 50,000 books and around 65,000 journals and magazines. The rare treasure in his library is a huge collection of over 3,000 palm-leaf manuscripts.

In 1973, he also set up a museum in Nayagarh that has around 40 sections on archaeology, natural history, numismatics, armoury, mining and geology, art and craft and anthroplogy.

The collections include sculptures, minerals, art and craft, armours, coins, postal stamps etc.

The museum has been declared as a tourist spot by the state government, but no step has been taken to promote it.

Eminent cultural personalities state have criticised the attitude of the government.

"This is not the first time that such an incident has come to notice. In the past a number of cultural organisations have staged protests against the lackadaisical behaviour of the government, but that has hardly had any affect on the government," said Panchanan Samal, a senior sculptor from the state.

"We have already written to the district collector and are scouting for a proper place to install the statue. The process will be completed in a month's time," said D. Bariha, deputy director of the department.

According to sources, the state government is now planning to put up the abandoned statue at Nayagarh, the birthplace of Dasia Aja.

A number of statues are lying in neglect in different parts of the state. The statues of tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda and a prominent Odissi dancer are also gathering dust, thanks to the apathy of the culture department.